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New bill seeks to give MPs control of billion-shilling youth, women funds

BUSINESS
By Winfred Ayaga | Feb 8th 2016 | 2 min read
By Winfred Ayaga | February 8th 2016
BUSINESS

A new bill proposes to have Members of Parliament control billions of shillings under a giant strategic fund.

Carol Njeri 28 from Ruiru town in Nairobi County hawks her wares in Nyeri Town upon arrival from the city in search of potential customers, on January 15 2016.She said had not benefited from the Uwezo Fund despite making the numerous submission to seek a financial support.Government committed to utilise the Sh6 billion that had been set aside for a possible election run-off in 2013 and initiated the Uwezo Fund to generate gainful self-employment for the youth and women.PHOTO:KIBATA KIHU/STANDARD.

The Uwezo Fund Bill, 2015, seeks to merge the Uwezo Fund, Women Enterprise Fund and Youth Enterprise Fund into one kitty run from the constituencies.

MPs will be the patrons of the consolidated fund, which will advance loans to youth, women and persons living with disabilities.

“The objective of this bill is to elevate the Public Finance Management (Uwezo Fund) Regulations, 2013, into an Act of Parliament, and to incorporate the Youth Enterprise Fund and the Women Enterprise Fund into the Act,” the proposal by Kangogo Bowen (Marakwet East) reads.

Presidential run-off

The Uwezo Fund was created out of a pledge by President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2013 to allocate Sh6 billion meant for a presidential run-off to youth and women groups. In the 2013-14 financial year, Parliament approved the money in the Budget.

The new provisions mean that the individual kitties will now be anchored in the law and will not operate under separate secondary legislation, as has been the case.

It also means that more money would be devolved to MPs’ jurisdictions, adding to the National Constituency Development Fund (CDF), which recognises the constituency as the basic unit for identification and implementation of Government functions.

During the 2014-15 financial year, the CDF was allocated Sh35 billion.

Under the proposed law, 75 per cent of the money allocated to the Uwezo Fund every financial year shall be distributed equally across all constituencies, and the remainder disbursed on the basis of the constituency poverty index.

Although the fund shall be administered by a chief executive officer, MPs will act as a link between the fund and the public. They will also participate in mobilising target beneficiaries to participate in the fund.

Each constituency shall have a bank account through which the funds shall be disbursed, the bill proposes.

To ensure prudent use of the funds, the bill requires each constituency to submit records of expenditure during the financial year.

The proposed law also creates the Uwezo Fund Board, which will have the power to impose restrictions on constituencies that do not demonstrate financial accountability.

“All disbursements from the main account shall be made through the constituency bank accounts maintained for every constituency ... no disbursements for the succeeding financial year shall be made into the accounts until the said records are duly received,” the bill — which is to be tabled when Parliament resumes this week — reads.

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