SECTIONS

MPs take on Ukur Yattani over NG-CDF billions

Members of the 13th Parliament in dance during their week-long induction at the Safari Park hotel, Nairobi. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

A legal battle is looming between MPs and the Treasury over the disbursement of billions of shillings to the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NGCDF). 

This follows a pronouncement by the Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani earlier in the day that he would not allocate monies to NG-CDF for the current 2022/23 financial year. 

Mr Yattani cited a Supreme Court ruling that declared NG-CDF illegal. 

Speaking during the ongoing induction workshop for Senators in Naivasha, on Thursday the CS said: “The Supreme Court made a pronouncement that the NG-CDF as it is illegal and therefore we are not going to disburse any cash, but we have sought advice from the Attorney General on the same.”

He noted that despite the CDF being crucial in the development of constituencies, there has been wastage.

Yattani's sentiments were however met with uproar from the members of the National Assembly. 

MPs who are attending an induction seminar in Nairobi, maintained that their constituents were entitled to the funds and a draw-back of the same would have irreversible consequences.

They claimed that whereas the Supreme Courts made a pronouncement, it did so on the CDF Act 2013 but did not explicitly rule on the on the operational 2015 Act that gave way for the NG-CDF. 

"The Supreme Court did not declare the 2015 Act unconstitutional. It only dwelled on the 2013 Act. whether they can or they will declare the 2015 Act illegal in future is a different point," said Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo. 

Mr Amollo noted that there was another case filed in 2016 by Wanjiru Gikonyo on NG-CDF and is before the High Court.

He said it was mentioned on Wednesday and due for further mention in October and urged the Treasury to wait for the determination of the matter. 

"Unless the High Court bench addresses itself on that issue, I think it is unfair for the Treasury CS and even the Chief Justice to pronounce themselves as if there has been a final pronouncement on the NGCDF Act 2015," he said. 

Kipkelion East MP Joseph Cherorot accused Yattani of trying to sabotage the government of President William Ruto that is barely three weeks in office. 

Mr  Cherorot questioned the sudden interest in CDF from various camps yet their predecessors had enjoyed the funds "unbothered."

"Yatani's announcement amounts to a pipe dream. NG-CDF is here to stay and we as members of Parliament will see to it that it does. We need development in our constituencies," he said. 

Marakwet MP Timothy Kipchumba said: "We were shocked by Yattani's remarks because the President had assured us we would not be stripped of the funds. The CS should act within the purview of the law." 

The CS's sentiments come a day after Chief Justice Martha Koome commented on the division of revenue and the unconstitutionality of the NG-CDF.

"The Supreme Court held that it is unconstitutional to allocate funds to the NG-CDF before the division of revenue between the national and county governments,” Justice Koome told senators on Wednesday 

“It was the position of the Court that it offended the division of functions between national and county governments to allow the NG-CDF, an instrumentality of the national government, to undertake functions devolved to the counties," the CJ said.

National Assembly Deputy Speaker Gladys Boss, argued that MPs were not administrators of the fund but patrons. 

"We are just patrons of the Fund. The committee that shares out the funds is constituted by the national government only that we have a free hand to appoint a few," she said. 

The Deputy Speaker noted that as patrons of NG-CDF, MPs get to drive the implementation of the funds at the constituency level hence the perception from the public that we administer the fund.