Kenyan leaders cautious over devolved budget

June 12, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 12 – The onus has now been placed on parliamentarians to show prudence in managing enormous resources allocated to them through the devolved funds.

Two Former Finance Ministers say safeguard measures should be instituted to ensure that the greater allocation to constituencies is not misused.

Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi who was Finance Minister from 1993 to 1997 lauded the Budget but cautioned that the additional funds call for better resource management.

“The challenge will be to immediately work on proper guidelines particularly for the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) committees and others because they are now given a greater role to play,” said Mr Mudavadi.

The Constituency Development Fund – introduced in 2003 – has been praised by many for spurring growth in the grassroots. However concerns have arisen on misappropriation of funds under this program.

“Until we improve the legislation, then the same wastage and abuse of funds that used to take place at the District Treasury can be duplicated at the constituency level. We will then have to improve the Constituency Treasury to make sure that it has got the pre-requisite manpower that can handle such amount of manpower,” Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale cautioned.

Parliamentary Finance Committee Chairman Chris Okemo – also a former Finance Minister between 1999 and 2001 – praised the devolution but called for safeguards to ensure there is no conflict between the CDF and district level distribution system. 

“The money is coming from ministries to the constituencies. That means he is carrying devolution beyond the CDF. The only problem I have is whether there may not be conflicting interest between the line ministries at the constituency level and the MP,” Mr Okemo.

“The distribution mechanism is still within the ministries. Even implementation will still be through the ministries. Even though they are supposed to work hand in hand so I think that may create implementation problems,” said Mr Okemo.

Mr Khalwale on his part remained cautious on the utilisation of the funds, noting that the country lacks good safeguard measures of accountability.

“It should also be made clear to the wanainchi that the money is not in the hands of the MPs. The money is in the hands of the civil servants in the same way it has been only that it will be dispensed at the constituency rather than at the district,” Mr Khalwale said.

Every constituency will be entitled to equipped health centre at a cost of Sh20 million and equipped jua kali sheds at a cost of Sh2.5 million. Rural roads in the constituency will be rehabilitated under the fuel levy at a cost of Sh86 million. Mr Kenyatta also allocated funds for the employment of 200 nurses and 60 teachers per constituency. And in a boost to the ICT sector the Minister pledged to provide Sh6 million worth of digital laboratories.

More interesting is the Sh30 million worth secondary school of excellence for every constituency which will have every facility making them the model institutions in the country.


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