Since 1902

CDF has not realised its role and should die a natural death, says man who created it

The man who conceived the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) idea and later developed it into an Act of Parliament, Senator Muriuki Karue, now supports its winding up.

Senator Karue argues that CDF should die because it has not made a serious impact as was envisaged.

Speaking to The Standard On Sunday on the phone yesterday, the Nyandarua senator stressed that Friday’s declaration of the fund as unconstitutional by the High Court should not raise worries since not much has to been seen so far from it.

“By-and-large, CDF should die a natural death. Wanjiku wants development, which is yet to be realised by the fund,” Karue said.

“The argument that the fund should be channeled through counties does not hold water. Devolution has been around for two years, what ordinary things has it done?” he said.

The senator maintained that although he fully supports the court’s ruling, there is a general misunderstanding of the CDF.

“This was a mode in the old constitution, but even in the new dispensation, it has not really served its purpose. It was meant to deal with issues that sometimes lead to harambees and other needs MPs are not able to address,” he argued.

Eng Karue said the primary role of MPs is to ensure projects are initiated in their constituencies to improve the living standards of rural folks. “CDF was meant to create equity to ensure some regions do not lag behind in development,” he said. “MPs are required to spearhead people driven projects.”

The fund was created in 2003 through an Act of Parliament, with the primary objective of addressing poverty on the ground by dedicating a minimum of 2.5 per cent of Government revenue to grassroots.

“When I conceptualised this fund in 1999, the central role was to initiate grassroots development instead of relying on funding by the government and local authorities then,” Karue said.

“The fund was an urgent intervention to the challenges locals faced. The principal tenets of the fund was to ensure government sets aside some money raised through taxes, then plough it back to the people.”

Ten years after it was established, the Act was amended to create the Constituencies Development Fund Board (CDFB), whose mandate is to manage the fund. The CDF Act 2003 (as amended in 2007) was repealed and replaced with CDF Act 2013, which aligned it to the new Constitution and the devolved government structure.

In its ruling on Friday, the High Court sought to establish whether the fund was meant to finance National Government functions or county functions in the constituency under the new constitutional dispensation.

But Elegyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen says the matter will be put to rest only if the two Houses of Parliament sit and agree on amendments to align the law with the new political structure.

 “We will work jointly with the two Houses to ensure we draft amendments that conform to the constitution. We must iron out the aspect of funding of national functions at the county level and if CDF is a conditional allocation or decentralised fund,” he said.

 Though MPs have been accused of using CDF to get undue advantage over their rivals during elections, the law was amendment to keep them away from the management of the fund.

The fund has been a blessing and a curse, going by the number of legislators in the last Parliament who lost their seats over alleged mismanagement.

The total amount allocated to constituencies is shared based on the following formula: five per cent is allocated to emergency reserve, 75 per cent of the balance is shared equally amongst all the 290 constituencies.

The balance of 25 per cent is allocated based on the Constituency Poverty Index modeled by the Ministry of Devolution and Planning.

More than Sh150 billion has so far been allocated to CDF since its inception, with Sh31.5 billion allocated last year.