Should MPs Run the Constituency Development Fund?

Posted by on 17th May 2013

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Last week MPs vowed to amend the CDF to give themselves more control over the funds. However on wonders at the effectiveness of the fund when it was under the management of the MPs, or even whether MPs should be administering the CDF fund, or whether we even need a CDF fund given new devolved structures?

CDF was created to encourage development and ensure community participation in development at constituency. By bypassing central bureaucracies and channel funding directly to community level it was thought that the CDF would allow MPs to respond directly to the developmental demands of and from their constituents.

Whether this has been achieved is questionable. A bit over 70 billion shillings has been allocated to CDF since its inception with varying results as far as tangible development is concerned. How well the CDF was used in the past varied from constituency to constituency, however one defining feature remained MPs had substantial control over the distribution and application of the funds

MPs involvement in the administration of CDF in the old dispensation was problematic to say the least, from accusations that MPs handpicked members of the CDF boards from among their cronies, and the fact the how the CDF was spent was heavily dependent on the MP with little or no input from the constituents. In many instances CDF failed to reach/benefit those who needed it most. Add to this the lack of transparency, accountability, and the billions lost through corruption involving CDF, strong arguments can be made for changing the way in which CDF is administered or scrapping it altogether.

The new regulations in the CDF Act 2013 change the role of MPs with regard to the administration of the CDF. Under the Act, MPs can no longer allocate projects, MP no longer appoint the CDF board, the constituents themselves to propose membership to CDF committee, and the projects to which CDF is allocated are decided on a priority basis.

In addition administration of CDF has been effectively transferred from MPs to a CDF official, who will act as the Authority to Incur Expenditure (AIE) and who will be accountable for any loss or embezzlement of the money. MPs will still sit on committees CDF but only as ex-official members exercising only the oversight role on projects.

It should be noted that CIC, the body in charge of the constitutional implementation has voiced its concerned with the unconstitutionality of the act and the existence of CDF. CDF is not provided for by the constitution under a devolved system of government one questions the need for CDF, isn’t the devolved system of government supposed to bring both finances and services closer to the people making the CDF redundant. – Read the CIC’s statement on the unconstitutionality of the CDF Act 2013 here.

Nevertheless MPs are/ and will be fighting to retain control of the CDF fund, Thika MP Alice Nganga, Nyaribari Chache MP Chris Bichage and Gwassi MP John Mbadi have voiced their intention to fight the new CDF regulations. MP Alice Nganga argued:

“The Kenyans who elected me don’t come to this board demanding for education bursaries, money to repair health centres… they know Alice is the one we elected and they don’t want to hear anything else,” he said. Members of Parliament have until May 13 to organise the election of their Constituency Development Fund (CDF) committees which will oversee projects to be prioritised in their areas.

The Speaker Justin Muturi advised MPs unhappy with the CDF law to propose amendments “If you feel so strongly about this, you have the power to do something about it because this law is a creature of this House, you can make it better.”

What do you think should MPs run the CDF?