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Poor constituencies lose out as major changes to CDF law passed

By Wilfred Ayaga | September 5th 2016
Leader of Majority Aden Duale

NAIROBI: MPs have passed two key amendments to the law including one that denies marginalised regions a greater share of the money.

Another provision in the National Constituency Development Fund (CDF) Bill 2016 helped MPs circumvent a recent court ruling denying constituencies Sh10 billion in CDF money.

The first amendment removed a legal provision that allows constituencies in marginalised areas a greater share of the total CDF allocations. Instead, MPs agreed that CDF money would be shared equally among all the 290 constituencies.

"The budget ceiling for each constituency shall be the amount specified in law divided equally among all constituencies," reads the new amendment to the bill.

The amendment was moved by CDF committee chairman Moses Lessonet (Eldama Ravine), who argued he changes would create fairness in the distribution of funds.

Leader of Majority Aden Duale (Garissa Town) supported the amendment, saying the CDF cash should be shared equally for the sake of fairness.

"I'm a leader in a marginalised area. The money this House allocates even for devolution is being stolen. Let us share the CDF equally because that is the only money that anyone can see," said Duale.

The section that the MPs deleted stated: "The budget ceiling for each constituency shall be three-quarters of the amount specified in law divided equally among all constituencies; and an amount equal to a quarter of the amount specified in law divided by the national poverty index multiplied by the constituency poverty index."

This meant 'poor' constituencies would ended up with a greater share of CDF money than the 'rich' ones. However, with the Sh6 billion Equalisation Fund already in law, there were concerns that some areas were getting a greater share of development funds than others.

The second amendment opened a window for the national government to 'facilitate' CDF projects, which effectively means the Government can directly fund projects that stalled as a result of the court rulings.

The High Court blocked the Treasury from releasing part of the Sh35 billion allocated in the current financial year. The decision arose out of a case challenging the legality of the CDF kitty.

"...the national government may, where necessary, facilitate other projects or programmes falling within the purview of the national government with funds other than specified in law," states the amendment moved by Katoo ole Metito (Kajiado South).

MPs were excited that they had gone around the court ruling that had jeopardised CDF just a year to the General Election.

Lessonet said, "This is a very creative amendment and if you are an MP and you are not creative, we are sorry."

"Should there be other funds meant for functions under the national government, then it should use the CDF as a channel for implementation," said Mr Metito.

"The amendment is very important. If the Government wishes to give us more resources, we'll appreciate it," said Joseph M'eruaki (Igembe North).

The CDF Bill seeks to cure gaps in the initial law the High Court declared unconstitutional last year.

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