NAIROBI, Kenya Jun 17 – Members of Parliament now want direct control of the devolved funds that the Finance Minister earmarked for constituency-level development in his budget speech last week.
Contributing to the budget debate, Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang’ and Kimili MP Esieli Simuyu raised fears that ministry officials would obstruct utilisation of the funds to the detriment of MPs.
“CDF (constituency development fund) has not been increased; we have been given a rope that will hang us because the civil servants will play around with these projects and then we will be blamed for it,” said Mr Kajwang.
The Mbita MP who described the budget as bold, claimed that technocrats at Treasury had discouraged Mr Kenyatta from directly disbursing the funds to CDF by claiming that the legislators were wreckless.
“This is not fiscal devolution, the word ‘constituency’ was just thrown into make it sound sexy and attractive because the line ministries are the ones that stall development,” he pointed out and added: “Tomorrow we will have billions coming back because they are not in the habit of spending for development. Put it in CDF and you see change,” said Mr Kajwang.
Mr Simiyu said the proposal would create a conflict between MPs and district officials as the lawmakers would oppose any attempts by civil servants to implement projects that have not been agreed upon.
He called on the Controller and Auditor General to carry out a ‘Value for Money Audit’, which would monitor the usage of the funds and the progress of the projects to curb abuse.
“I would have liked to hear the minister say he had put some money for the monitoring of the projects. I have said it before – government is haemorrhaging money everyday, it has now moved the haemorrhage to the constituency,” said the Kimilili MP.
The MPs argued that Uhuru Kenyatta’s budget did not carry out fiscal devolution with Mr Esieli claiming that the Finance Minister only managed to bring corruption down to the constituency level.
Gwasi MP John Mbadi and Roads Minister Chris Obure called for amendments to the law on public procurement claiming that it prevents the government from completing the process in time.
Mr Kajwang also took issue with the reluctance of the Finance Minister to float infrastructure bonds.
“Sh140 billion for infrastructure development is not enough. We will fund it though taxes; most development is done through development bonds. If you wait for budgetary allocations to build roads, water dams, irrigation projects and schools it will never be enough” he said.