In any situation where foreign aid is disbursed there is normally a reporting system in place and criteria for receiving funds. There is also a system for releasing funding on the part of the donor where one tranche is released after the previous one has been acquitted for.
Four members of parliament have fail to acquitted their 2011 republic of China, Taiwan constituency development funds and amongst them is the Opposition leader Dr. Derek Sikua. Dr.Sikua has refuted the claim by the Prime Minister`s office and ministry of rural development that he has not submitted the acquittals for the republic of China-funded rural development funds for his constituency for 2011.
In his defense and in response to the allegations against him, Dr. Derek Sikua mentioned that he received the first and third tranches but the second tranche came in late and thus, the late acquittal.
The system was initially set up to disburse funds from the responsible ministry to the honorable members of parliament and their constituencies. This implies that in this case, the ministry of rural development is responsible for the proper and timely distribution of funds and therefore if for any reason the funds are dispersed late, ample time should be accorded for acquittals and reporting. If normal procedures had been followed, the third tranche of funding for Dr. Sikua’s constituency would not have been disbursed before receipt and acquittals of the second tranche.
To be really clear on the issues, the question of why the second tranche was released after the third tranche and the question of who approved disbursal of the third tranche before the second one and why they did this needs to be answered.
The office of the prime minister and the ministry of development has given the MPs seven days to produce their acquittals before the auditors are sent to their constituencies to establish how the fund were spent.
For the government to mandate Dr.Sikua to produce the report and acquittal within seven days is not proper as the stage of distribution of funds for this constituency is not known and if half or more of the funding is yet to be dispersed, such a mandate will trigger falsified acquittals just to answer to the donor.
Another question that needs to be asked is why aid funding is channeled into the community through the honorable member of a constituency rather than through the ministry responsible itself and through its provincial networks. Distribution of aid funding through the honorable member responsible for a constituency is in itself a venue that encourages corruption. One of Dr. Sikua’s points in his defense was that one contributing factor to the delay in receipt disbursal and acquittal of the Micro projects development and millennium goals was the fact that he was “engaged with is election petition case which started in March 2011. The chairpersons of his polling stations also had to approve the constituency’s 2011 budget in July last year before the funds could be received. Clearly, the interference of political activities, obligations and protocols has hindered the process of disbursal of funds and acquittals for his constituency, which emphasizes the idea that there needs to be a more transparent system of distributing aid funding that involves minimum or no political interference.
The statement released by the Ministry of Rural development saying that other provinces have already acquitted and these have already been delivered to the Embassy of the Republic of China is questionable as the reporting would need to be compiled as a tranche report and acquittal by the Ministry itself and then presented to the embassy and this cannot be submitted unless all constituencies have given in their acquittals which again raises the question of whether or not there is a transparent system in place for the distribution of funding and whether this issue is being used against Dr. Sikua as a political retaliation.
Perhaps the more important question to ask is, “Is the current system being used as a political campaign tool to subsidize the constituency allocations (which are not always sufficient for rural development once all political favors have been paid for) and is the government turning a blind eye on the issue of transparency of the distribution system to cater for other discrepancies?