President William Ruto's United Democratic Alliance is now plotting to amend the Constitution so as to rescue the impugned National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF).
The UDA allied legislators have mooted plans to anchor the NG-CDF in law by amending the Constitution through a parliamentary initiative. Consequently, Members of the National Assembly have introduced the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2022, which seeks to, among other things, entrench the fund in the Constitution and ensure that its critical role in promoting the development of national development projects is safeguarded.
Matungulu MP Stephen Mule and his Gichugu counterpart Robert Gichumu are the sponsors of the Bill, which is aimed at shielding the NG-CDF fund from legal disruptions and one that is also to fully entrench the National Government Affirmative Fund, introducing a Senate Oversight Fund and Economic Stimulus and Empowerment Fund in the constitution.
“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.
It 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 and the legislators have been using the kitty 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 percent 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.
The Bill also champions the 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,” states the bill.
The amendment Bill wants Parliament to enact the legislation to make provision for the operation of the economic stimulus and empowerment fund whose objective will be to empower women, men, youth and persons living with disabilities. It also advocates for the amendment of the equalization fund to ensure that the Government only uses it to provide essential services including water, roads, health facilities and electricity to marginalized areas to the extent necessary to bring the quality of those services in those areas to a level generally enjoyed by the rest of the nation.
“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.
Mule yesterday said the bill had garnered the requisite support from members having collected 335 signatures in support of the constitutional change.
“We have made sure that the entire legislation, working of the budgets and the figures that need to entrench in the constitution are done. The work is beyond us. We have submitted the Bill to the House through the tables office and it has been forwarded to the speaker for consideration when we are back from recess,” said Mule.
“By entrenching the fund in the law, it will not only be used to sustain programmes such as the proposed school feeding programme but also ensure Parliament can appropriate the funds without having to beg anyone,” he added.
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, a five-judge bench led by Chief Justice Martha Koome decreed that the CDF Act, 2013 violates the principle of separation of powers, making it unconstitutional. And 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.