SECTIONS

Overjoyed MPs retain outlawed CDF in different format

A section of Members of Parliament in a session of song and praise during their second day of induction at Safari Park Hotel. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The National Government Constituency Development Fund (NGCDF) has been retained although it will now use a new formula that will benefit populous constituencies and areas which are sparsely populated.

The fund's chief executive Yussuf Mbuno on Tuesday said that the various constituencies will henceforth receive varying amounts in NGCDF - a deviation from the previous financial year where all constituencies got equal share. 

Last month, the Supreme Court declared the Constituency Development Fund illegal and unconstitutional bringing to the end a nine-year court battle between the Members of Parliament and civil society groups.

In its verdict, the country’s highest court found that the law allowing MPs to manage funds offends division of revenue and public finance law.

“A declaration is hereby made that the Constituency Development Fund Act, 2013 is unconstitutional,” the verdict given by the five-judge bench read in part.

“We agree with the reasoning adopted by the High Court to the effect that the CDF Act 2013 violates the principle of separation of powers and that the CDF Act 2013 is unconstitutional. We also agree with the reasoning of the Court of Appeal, but only to the extent that it upholds the position of the High Court,”

The case had been filed at the High Court in 2013, but it later escalated to the Supreme Court after the Court of Appeal overturned the High Court’s finding.

The matter pitted two civil society groups, Institute for Social Accountability (Tisa) and the Centre for Enhancing Democracy and Good governance, against the lawmakers.

But Mbuno said since the verdict, there has been confusion between the CDF and the NG-CDF.

"What the court ruled upon was the CDF Act 2013. The NG-CDF is based on the 2015 Act and was not affected by the Supreme Court ruling although there is still a court case that is coming for hearing," Mbuno said.

During an in-camera sitting at the MPs induction in Nairobi, it was decided that each of the 290 constituencies will henceforth receive 75 per cent of the funds as an equitable share but the remaining 25 per cent will be shared based on the number of wards. 

The money will also be disbursed by a committee set up by the NGCDF Board in each constituency. 

The CEO based the development on a law passed by the National Assembly in July before the House adjourned indefinitely. 

The declaration however elicited mixed reactions from members.

While others welcomed the move, some felt it would deny them much-needed resources to develop their constituencies. 

"The new disbursement formula will now see my constituency get Sh131 million down from Sh137 million in the previous financial year," said Sirisia MP John Walukhe who termed the new provisions as "negative."

"I will now have to scale down on the projects in my constituency. I had proposed to build five storage facilities and schools but that will now have to be reduced to two."

Kamukunji MP Yussuf Hassan was supportive of the new proposal by the NGCDF Board.

He said that the NGCDF was an important contributor to development and had made a bigger impact than any other government project.

"I am happy that it's active and alive. Calculations are now based on wards. This is because some have larger populations," he said.

His constituency will receive Sh140 million compared to a previous allocation of Sh131 million. 

Notably, the highest number of wards in a constituency are eight, with a majority having five wards. The minimum number is three. 

"This is a fairer and equitable system and will ensure growth," Hassan said.

"I represent more than 500,000 people whereas others constituencies have 100,000 meaning we can't be the same. The fair system in Nairobi is based on population."

National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetangula also assured the legislators that their allowances and the NGCDF would not be removed as alleged. 

"Nobody in their right frame of mind will interfere with your car allowances, mileage reimbursements and with your mortgage and everything else that you have been having because that is your entitlement,” he said.

Additional reporting by Patrick Vidija