The newly formed cabinet has been dedicated to the cause of the economy as soon as it was elected – a related and often stated goal is to ensure good governance. The recent decision of the cabinet to end all discretionary funds to the members of the parliament - including the President, the Prime Minister and the federal ministers - is a move that can, along with complementary policies, certainly improve the outlook of the country in this matter.
Discretionary funds are not mandatory funds to be allocated to the elected members of the parliament; however, the law allows the space for them to be utlised under certain circumstances. However, in the history of the country, there are countless instances when these discretionary funds have been used for the personal gain of those in power.
Many times these funds have been used in lieu of actual national or regional developmental policy. Each MPA or MNA was free to do with his share of the funds as he saw fit for his constituency – often resulting in unnecessary and populist projects – such as new bridges, libraries and sports facilities – instead of what a region economically needs. With the reins completely in control of the relevant Member of Parliament, the space for patronage politics was widely extended – with representatives prioritising development is areas that had supported them through the elections. Representatives with large portions of the pie seemingly announced development projects on whims; often when they were holding a rally in the relevant area. With such as system around, financial irregularities were unsurprisingly widespread.
This change was a long time coming.
With the lapsing economy, the use of the taxpayer’s money should be regularly audited and recorded. The leaders of developing nations should not be able to enjoy such policies, especially when there is an ailing economy to tend to. This move by the new cabinet is rightfully being welcomed across the board because it is an aim towards the right direction - one which will not only allow breathing space in terms of financial policies but will also push the polity towards a positive direction.
Development projects need to adopt a holistic approach as opposed to the makeshift and ad-hoc policies that are rampant today. There is a legitimate argument for local authorities to hold funds to deal with small-time local needs – but that needs to be handled through the local government system; as envisioned by the constitution.