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Well done Uhuru, but not yet uhuru

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 12 – Experts are now vouching for policy changes to support the devolved budget presented by Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta.

Wanjiru Gikonyo of the Constituency Development Fund Accountability Project (CDFAP) on Friday called for the reconstitution of the fund’s management board which she adds must be given “requisite executive power with accountability checks to effectively administrate and streamline CDF operations.”

“At present the CDF Board is a lame duck institution charged with administration at the behest of Parliament. MPs need to take up the role of patron and Parliament must play its oversight effectively which is presently not happening under the present CDF structure,” she voiced.

The coordinator supported the conversion of the board into a parastatal to give it the independence it needs for effective management of the resources.

Introduced in 2003 CDF has been the darling of legislators some of who have used it to spur development in their area and ride on this for political popularity. Besides increasing CDF allocation from Sh10 billion to Sh12 billion, Mr Kenyatta further allocated specific development funds through line ministries to every constituency.

However the fund‘s management has raised eyebrows owing to gross misappropriation of funds and lack of clear work plans coupled with misinformed decisions. The civil society movement has been advocating for the amendment of the CDF Act to inject more accountability.

CDF committee who are usually handpicked by the MPs have been criticised for misusing the funds. Mrs Gikonyo proposed that government gives more executive power to the technical officers arguing that leaving the resources on the CDF committees opens it up to misappropriation and corruption since there is no clear accountability.

“CDF is actually a committee of citizens who have actually shown that they are ready to be corrupt and very lacking in technical capacity. CDF depends on the technical expertise of the district officers,” she said.

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To provide a buffer on the overall management of the fund the accountability project is proposing more transparency in the operations of the fund by allowing the nomination of committee members and opening up of procurement.

“At the local level a clear timetable of public meetings should be published to ensure maximum participation. Such meetings should be used to discuss planned and ongoing projects and full status reports should be availed; all CDF records should be open to public scrutiny. All contractor-supplier details should be made public to avoid rogue contractors capturing the benefits of the fund at the expense of genuine local enterprise, “Mrs Gikonyo recommended.

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