SECTIONS
Premium

MPs vow to stay away from House over CDF billions

Parliament Buildings, Nairobi. [File, Standard]

Members of Parliament have renewed their rivalry with the Executive over the failure of the Treasury to release the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) billions.

In a rare show of unity devoid of political party allegiance, the legislators are now threatening a go-slow and boycott of House business unless the Sh44 billion NG-CDF kitty is disbursed to the constituencies with immediate effect. Each MP has been receiving about Sh137 million.

Raising the matter during plenary on Thursday, Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi highlighted the plight of the legislator’s constituents, demanding that the funds be disbursed in the next two weeks lest members will not proceed for long recess.

“Failure by the Treasury CS to disburse the funds, I will be moving members to refrain from proceeding on recess and secondly refrain from engaging in any business until NG-CDF are disbursed,” stated Wandayi.

“As we speak, no one has told us why the disbursements have not been made since we approved the national Treasury CS Njuguna Ndungu. This is the first time since 2013 when we are getting into the tail end of the second quarter of the financial year with no single disbursement of CDF to constituencies,” he added.

Wandayi faulted President William Ruto's administration for remaining mum on the issue, noting that while there was a Bill aimed at regularising and doubling the NG-CDF funds, the Executive needed to cut the red tape involved in the dolling out of funds. Majority leader Kimani Ichungwa sided with his minority counterpart, promising an expedited engagement with the Treasury boss.

“The Executive should not think it is doing any favour to MPs by releasing CDF funds. Our people are waiting for people to go process the bursaries for their school fees. There’s no reason the Treasury should not be disbursing the funds. I will be engaging the CS Treasury to ensure that by the time we are proceeding for recess we have those and all other funds meant to be disbursed to counties,” said Ichungwa.

Lawmakers were dealt a blow in September after former Treasury CS Ukur Yattani declared that he would not release CDF funds citing a court order in his possession. The Supreme Court had declared the funds illegal noting that it offends the division of functions between national and county governments to allow CDF, an instrumentality of the national government, to undertake functions devolved to the counties. 

What has followed in the period since has been cries from distressed families whose children have been chased away from school over failure to pay school fees. Speaker Moses Wetangula directed that the matter be taken up by the Majority Leader and the relevant Budget and Finance House committee and a response issued by Tuesday next week.

“I will give you (Ichungwa) an opportunity together with the Budget and Finance committee chairperson to engage the Treasury CS and I will give you an opportunity on Tuesday afternoon to make a formal statement So you can guide the House accordingly,” observed Wetangula.

Should the MPs, however, make good their threats to boycott House business, dire consequences await. Article 103 of the Constitution stipulates circumstances under which an MP can be removed from office and the seat declared vacant.

“If, during any session of Parliament, the member is absent from eight sittings of the relevant House without permission, in writing, from the Speaker, and is unable to offer a satisfactory explanation for the absence to the relevant committee,” reads the law.

The development comes amid a push by the august House to amend the Constitution to anchor the annulled National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) in law. They have also proposed radical changes to ensure that the Senate Oversight Fund, National Government Affirmative Action Fund and Economic Stimulus and Empowerment Fund are fully entrenched in the constitution.

However, the senators are unhappy with this push and have vowed to torpedo the Bill once it landed in Senate because they had not been consulted and the amount proposed for their oversight role is just too little. Matungulu MP Stephen Mule and his Gichugu counterpart Robert Gichumu have officially tabled the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2022 on the floor of the House. The Bill seeks to, among other things, shield the NG-CDF fund from legal disruptions, entrench the funds in the Constitution and ensure that their critical roles in promoting the development of national projects are safeguarded.