24 March, 2018, 12:00 am
CONCERNS have been raised regarding a delay in the internal processing of operating grants for disabled persons organisations (DPOs) that was allocated in the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation’s 2017/2018 Budget.
Fiji Disabled People’s Federation president Joshco Wakaniyasi highlighted the issue with Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum during the 2018-2019 National Budget consultation at the Fiji National Council for Disabled Persons (FNCDP) hall in Brown St, Suva.
The concerns stemmed from the $1.1 million allocation for disabled persons organisations (DPOs) in the 2017/2018 budget, of which its first allocation was only processed earlier this month.
Mr Wakaniyasi said they were given the “OK” on their allocation in September last year, but the funds did not arrive until this month, which was into the third quarter of Government’s 2017/2018 financial year.
Because of the delay in core funds, Mr Wakaniyasi said programs and activities planned for DPOs during the period were held back.
Mr Wakaniyasi also confirmed to Mr Sayed-Khaiyum that their acquittals for the previous financial year were submitted well before the deadline in August 15, last year.
“When there are delays in funds, it then compresses the time frame for our work, so sometimes we are rushing, so we are not really having the preferred outcomes that we are actually after,” Mr Wakaniyasi said.
“We are not able to forecast what we have done, what we need to do better, what areas we need reach, who we are going to go to next.”
A representative from the concerned ministry clarified that the delay in grants were because of the internal processes and clearance systems involved.
“Clearance came in August for some, but not all. I agree that main issue was the internal process of the DPO grants committee,” the representative said.
“They have raised it with us and we are actually looking at improving our internal processes so we can narrow the gap.”
Mr Wakaniyasi also requested Mr Sayed-Khaiyum to consider having a representative from the DPOs on the grants committee of the concerned ministry, which mainly consisted of the line permanent secretary and the directors.
“We are looking at the opportunity to get a representative from DPOs to the grants committee because we know the people that are involved in the grants committee are decision makers, so often they are pretty busy,” he said.
“This is so the funds can actually come faster. That way we will then be able to implement programs according to our work plan including activities that need to be carried out.”
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said they had taken this into consideration and would advise the ministry to re-look at their internal processes.