, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 12 – The National Assembly Committee on the Constituency Development Fund has said it will push for a 10 percent increase of the devolved kitty from the current 2.5 percent, in the event the High Court nullifies amendments the House made to the CDF Act 2013.
CDF Committee chairman Moses Lessonet said their fallback plan includes fixing the proposed allocation into the Appropriations Bill, which is a legislative Act proposing to authorize the government to spend money for a specified purpose.
“We are committed to protecting CDF because it is the only cash that is the most devolved and reaches all the people. In fact, we are going to work on ways of increasing it by 10 percent,” Lessonet said.
Civil society groups moved to the High Court in April to block President Uhuru Kenyatta from assenting to the amended Act after the Parliament approved it. The groups challenged the action by the National Assembly to retain control of the devolved fund.
The groups opposed the move because it will add an extra tax burden to Kenyan taxpayers so that government can meet the new allocations.
If the proposal took effect this year, then each of the country’s 290 constituencies would have been allocated almost Sh200 million from the Sh1.6 trillion budget the government unveiled in June.
President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday promised to sign the Constituencies Development Fund (Amendment) Act when it is made available to him.
Kenyatta said the many projects in the country that had been funded by the CDF indicated how useful the funds were to the people at the grassroots level.
“As a two term Member of Parliament there is one thing I cannot ignore that has impact in Kenya is CDF. It has helped our people a lot and I fully support it,” he noted.
Once the President assents to the Bill as passed by the House, Governors will automatically lose control of the funds in accordance with the CDF Act 2013. Governors and Senators have been pushing to have the control of the CDF by having it included in the budget for the counties and to be administered from the counties through them and the county executives.
The civil society organizations argue that the amendments done by the House go against the mood of the people who had told public hearings organized by the National CDF Committee that they wanted to elect members of CDF committees.
According to the CDF Act 2013, the MPs should convene open public meetings of registered voters in their constituencies in each of the elective wards within the first 40 days after the swearing-in ceremony.
The Committees shall have a maximum 10 members and half of them should be elected by the public.
CDF committees play a critical role in prioritising the projects to be funded and MPs have not been members but patrons. Having MPs as patrons was meant to minimize their influence in the management of the kitty.
The CDF Act 2013 also redefines the role of MPs in line with the Constitution and allows them to participate merely in mobilising community members for project identification.
This means MPs can no longer allocate projects to reward their cronies and none can make decisions arbitrarily regarding the usage of funds.
Suba MP and Budget Committee member John Mbadi demanded that the Constitution Implementation Commission and the Ministry of Devolution for failing to formulate clear structures to ensure there are checks and balances over CDF while under the management of governors in the counties.