Use constituency development fund to pay teachers, Majority Leader Aden Duale tells MPs

Over 37 Jublee MPS led by the majority leader Aden Duale ( middle ) address the Media on the recent ICC developments at Parliment Buildings 20-08-2015 [PHOTO/MOSES OMUSULA/STANDARD]

Majority Leader Aden Duale (Garissa Township MP) has said MPs pushing Jubilee administration to pay teachers will need to vote for the constituency development fund to be slashed to get money to pay teachers currently on strike.

Addressing a press conference on the sidelines of a parliamentary retreat in Mombasa, the Majority Leader said the only way the government can raise money is if MPs agree to part with a portion of the Sh33 billion CDF, which has already been declared illegal by the High Court.

"If MPs are so keen on the plight of teachers, then let them come, we hold a kamukunji (an informal meeting) and agree that we get Sh10 billion from CDF; get some money from the Sh258 billion that we gave the county governments; some money from the Judiciary, from the Executive and from Parliamentary Service Commission," said Duale.

The 50-60 percent pay rise that the teachers were awarded is estimated to cost the taxpayer an extra Sh17 billion. The government has declined to pay and contested the award in court, a situation that has forced the teachers to go on strike paralyzing education in public schools.

The proposal targeting CDF is likely to shut up the MPs who back the teachers, because to the lawmakers, this is a fund that gives them immense influence in their respective constituencies as it allows them to honour some of their development pledges. They have all along been protective of the fund whenever issues of financial impropriety have been reported regarding the fund.

Like his party bosses, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto, who have already said there's no money to pay the teachers, Duale said the idea was to find a way to give the Cabinet Secretary of the National Treasury Henry Rotich "options" to raise money.

"When the President says there's no money, it is true there's no money. If anyone wants teachers to be paid, then the three arms of government must sit together and agree," said Duale.

The Majority Leader agreed with the Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi that the National Assembly, which is currently on recess until September 29, will not be recalled to discuss the ongoing teachers' strike that has paralysed education in all public schools in the country.

"We only recall the House in an emergency situation. Parliament is not a place where you sell mitumba (second-hand clothes). It is for serious business," said Duale.

He insisted that the budgeting cycle had ended with the assent to the Finance Bill 2015 last week, and that the only way to rekindle the debate on the budget for the increased teachers' pay, is through a supplementary budget.

"If the CS Treasury tells me today that he has a supplementary budget with the money for teachers, I will recall the House and we will pass it. But, for now, I don't see anything important on why I should recall the House so that the MPs just come to empathise with the teachers for three hours and then we go home without a solution," said the Majority Leader.