Lawmakers in bid to anchor CDF in law and create fund for Senate

Speaker Moses Wetangula. [Kelly Ayodi, Standard]

The process to amend the law to anchor the annulled National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) in the Constitution has kicked off in Parliament.

MPs have proposed radical changes to create a kitty for senators, the Senate Oversight Fund, National Government Affirmative Action Fund and Economic Stimulus and Empowerment Fund are fully entrenched in the Constitution.

Matungulu MP Stephen Mule and his Gichugu counterpart Robert Gichumu Tuesday tabled the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2022 on the floor of the House. The Bill seeks to, among other things, shield the NG-CDF from legal disruptions, entrench it in the Constitution and ensure MPs role in promoting the development of national projects is safeguarded.

“The net effect of the entrenchment of the Funds in the Constitution is to guarantee developmental benefits without undue interruption to the people by channeling resources to meet the ever-increasing need of the people of Kenya,” reads the Bill in part.

The proposed law also seeks to increase the NG-CDF kitty to at least five per cent of the total national revenue - Sh88 billion. The law currently sets aside 2.5 per cent of the total revenue raised nationally to be shared among the 290 constituencies. The Treasury allocated the NG-CDF Sh44.3 billion in the current financial year and the kitty could increase to Sh88 billion annually if MPs approve the Bill.

Each constituency receives at least Sh137 million which legislators have been using for community development projects.

“…There be established the National Government Constituencies Development Fund which shall be a national government fund consisting of monies of an amount of not less than 5 per cent of all the national government share of revenue as divided by the annual Division of Revenue Act enacted pursuant to Article 218,” further reads the Bill.

Senate oversight

The Bill also provides for establishment of the Senate Oversight Fund which seeks an allocation of 0.001 per cent of all the national government share of revenue as divided in the Division of Revenue Act.

“Further, the establishment of the Senate Oversight Fund in the Constitution will ensure that the Senate is adequately empowered and resourced to perform its function as stipulated in Article 96 of the Constitution,” says the Bill. The amendment Bill provides for the economic stimulus and empowerment fund designed to empower women, men, youth and persons living with disabilities.

It also advocates for the amendment of the Equalisation Fund to ensure that the Government only uses it to provide essential services including water, roads, health facilities and electricity to marginalised areas to the extent necessary to bring the quality of those services in those areas to a level generally enjoyed by the country.

“The commission on Revenue Allocation shall be consulted and its recommendations considered before Parliament passes any Bill appropriating money out of the Equalization fund,” adds the Bill. Speaker Moses Wetangula Tuesday said that legislators would be allowed to debate the Bill but would not be allowed to make any amendments until after it has undergone public participation.

“I note that the proposal by the two members has complied with the first part of the new provision, having obtained signatures of over 200 members of this House,” said the Speaker.

The Bill will go through first reading before the MPs break for long recess in December.

The second reading will be in March when the legislators resume plenary. At that time the Bill is expected to have undergone public participation. It will only be passed after approval by the National Assembly and the Senate.

“A Bill to amend the Constitution shall have been passed by Parliament when each House of Parliament has passed the Bill – in both the second and third readings, by not less than two thirds of all the members of that House,” reads the law.

For the Bill to be passed, it must be approved by 233 or more members, which constitute two-thirds of the 349 lawmakers.

The constitutional amendment push comes after a ruling by the Supreme court declaring CDF unlawful. In September, the Supreme Court decreed that the CDF Act, 2013 violates the principle of separation of powers, making it unconstitutional.

During the inaugural joint sitting of the 13th Parliament, President William Ruto urged the lawmakers to align the NG-CDF with the Constitution and also establish an oversight fund for Senators. At the same time, the National Assembly yesterday held its departmental committees elections.

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