LOCAL Government and Rural Development Minister Gary Nkombo says the idea of being extra careful in the utilisation of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) has created a red tape, adding that there will be bottlenecks along the way because this is a new phenomenon.

Kantanshi PF member of parliament Anthony Mumba recently said there was total confusion in the utilisation of CDF and he saw a lot of resentment from beneficiaries if the matter was not urgently addressed.

In an interview, Nkombo admitted that there was a delay in CDF utilisation, but that government was addressing the challenge with the absorption capacity of the K25.7 million.

“It is true that managing transition is not easy. So there will be bottlenecks along the way in a manner the guidelines were couched. They were couched in order to be in line with the Constitution of the land and the CDF Act itself. In doing so, the idea was to make sure that the funds are ring-fenced from abuse. And it is that idea of being extra careful, that I think as Minister responsible, has created this red tape. And so now that we have identified areas where we need to unbutton and uncast, we need to then come up with an idea,” he said.

“For instance, one of the biggest problems we have is registration of cooperatives with the Registrar of Societies. They have been overwhelmed completely by the number of applications which has caused a good delay. And so in order to overcome that, we thought that we could go the club way. This way becomes easy because it is decentralised and club registration can be done at local authority level. So what we are doing is we are trying to address the many challenges that we are now faced with the absorption capacity of the K25.7 million. Yes we may be delayed, but along the way, we will get on track.”

Nkombo, however, said government was not looking back because these challenges would have been addressed by next year.

“We are quite confident and we are not looking back. It is just for this particular year because this is a new phenomenon. Nobody actually expected that the President of this country would decentralise to that level of giving the responsibility to district and sub district organs of the political governance system including the wards. So because the project identification is done at ward level, it means it is a true reflection of what the people in the ward actually want. So in order to get it right, do not forget the money is being disbursed quarterly. Because of that, it is also another safety catch. Since it is being disbursed quarterly, we will monitor the utilisation and the retirement and the absorption of the same,” said Nkombo.