DIRECTOR of the Constituency Development Fund Programme Management Unit Moveta Monroe says that the team has had to be "massaging" members of parliament (MP) to submit their projects for approval by the Constituency Development Fund Committee (CDF), which will hold its last meeting for the parliamentary year next Tuesday.
"...We have sent out three communications dealing with this issue and the officers are still massaging members of parliament to get their projects in. So I am just thinking that next week we may have an abnormal number of projects coming in," Monroe told the Committee yesterday during its penultimate meeting while making it clear that "the unit has fulfilled its responsibilities in this regard".
Committee Chairman Dr DK Duncan had earlier informed committee members that there was "likely to be a flood of project proposals coming to us next week", making it so that the Committee might have to sit longer than the customary one hour. Dr Duncan, in trying to arrive at a solution, enquired of members whether the committee should meet earlier than the usual 9:00 am starting time in order to process all the projects.
"If they come, we could complete or let's see where we can reach," Dr Duncan said.
Government member and MP for Eastern St Catherine, Denise Daley was adamant that the committee should not be inconvenienced because of the latecomers.
"I do not know what method we are going to use to ensure that we (complete the projects) because all of us are members of parliament and we too have to stick [to] the rules and we are going to implore them to make sure that the projects are in and that we probably use a little extension time next week. But I am not prepared to come another day after next week in regard to any project even, if it is mine," she declared
Her position was supported by Opposition MP Everald Warmington, who represents South West St Catherine.
"Madame director said the officers are still massaging members to get their projects and they have sent out three sets of reminders to members. Responsible members of Parliament ought not to be reminded; if you are responsible you just wouldn't need a reminder that you are to submit the projects so that you can assist the members of your constituency," he noted.
"There's no reason to give them a month or two extension, they have to be responsible enough to represent their constituency and if they don't and lose those funds then the constituents ought to penalise their members of parliament," he ended.
That approach was, however, tempered by the committee chair.
"I understand your view but I have consistently taken a facilitatory approach for the MPs to submit," Dr Duncan said.
Yesterday, newcomer Dr Dayton Campbell — who represents the governing People's National Party in north west St Ann — appealed for some level of understanding.
"I would join you on that line because there are certain new members to this House who I think may not have been aware that they would have to submit the projects by the end of January and I think the reminder is a good thing for those persons so they can be aware that there is a deadline for them to submit those projects," Dr Campbell said.
"I am not advocating or asking for any extension, but I don't see what is wrong with reminding persons that the deadline is next week," he pointed out.