13 August 2010

3 Problems with Constituency Development Funds

I was introduced to Constituency Development Funds in Southern Sudan. I had an instinctive dislike for the idea but never really put my finger on why.

A new International Budget Project paper helps out.

This list includes Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Southern Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. CDFs are funding arrangements that channel money from central government directly to electoral constituencies for local infrastructure projects. Decisions about how these funds are allocated and spent are heavily influenced by members of parliament (MPs).

So what is the problem?

  1. CDFs breach the principle of the separation of powers by conferring parts of the executive function of budget execution on the legislature.
  2. CDFs contribute to clientelism
  3. the executive tends to support the introduction of CDFs because such schemes could help to shift the responsibility for capital investment away from them and onto MPs

But what caused what? Do CDFs really encourage clientelism or are they merely a natural outcome of an already clientelistic politics?

And how are CDFs related to the donor-led drive for decentralisation and community participation? Are CDFs a perversion of the latest fad for “Community-Driven Development”?

Sadly this is probably the kind of scheme that would be somewhat difficult to evaluate through randomisation…


Bill Harshaw said...

Sounds like the funds NY state legislators have control over. The legislature is perhaps the most dysfunctional in the nation. Correlation is not causation but...

Lee said...

Hmmm, well I suppose by definition they will on average have less time for their primary role of scrutinising legislation...

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