NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 5 – A Civil Society lobby group is calling for major administrative changes to the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) Act to streamline operations and ensure efficiency.
In its memorandum to the CDF Review taskforce, the Social Accountability Network wants clear executive authority placed on the Ministry of Planning and National Development as opposed to the current arrangement where Parliament is perceived to have usurped the powers. The Network is proposing that National Assembly carries its supervisory and monitoring role and policy legislation separately from execution.
“The Minister for Planning should also be empowered to enforce compliance through powers to censure key board officials by demanding a review of key officer performance or sacking of the same,” the memorandum states.
The recommendations further call on the Ministry to delegate its executive authority to the CDF Board which will recruit a Fund Manager and a Finance and Administration Manager for each constituency. The proposals also want the board transformed into a ten-member commission selected competitively through Parliament.
“Their terms of reference should be clear with benchmarks on performance and integrity. There should be developed a clear organogram indicating lines of authority and ‘buck stoppers’ in the board.”
Under these proposals, the District Development Officer who is currently the de-facto accounting officer will be recognized in the Act to give him more authority and accountability.
“The CDF Law should recognize the Public Procurement Oversight Authority and the implementation guidelines should detail the process of lodging procurement complaints,” the memorandum said adding that this would streamline procurements and root out corruption.
Wide consultations and major participation of the local people in the management of the Constituency Development Fund could also become a reality if other recommendations by the lobby group are adopted. The Network wants competitive selection of members of the CDF committees at the grassroots to be done by the Chief as opposed to present scenario where the MP solely appoints.
The Network proposes that interested persons make written wealth declarations before being nominated in a public baraza attended by wananchi and the area MP.
“Each location to nominate four candidates of either gender, short listed candidates to undergo panel interviews conducted by the CDF manager, the District Development Officer and the Administration and Finance Manager. The MP may attend the recruitment panel meetings ex-officio in an oversight capacity,” the network said.
The group has also recommended the similar selection criteria for project management committees that will be responsible for specific projects and avoid the situation where MPs appoint their cronies and relatives. To ensure full public participation, the lobby is proposing quarterly constituency meetings and monthly location meetings where the committees give an update of the projects and members give their assessment and input.
The written memorandum also wants the CDF Committee members barred from contracts or related tenders to avoid conflict of interest.
The review taskforce has already collected views from the public, MPs and other interest group and is expected to submit its report by end month. Currently 2.5 percent of the county’s budget is committed to this fund for development at the grassroots.