Members of Parliament have vowed to continue paralyzing House business until the billions of shillings owed to them under the National Government Constituency Development Funds (NG-CDF) are released.
The lawmakers are also agitating for the release of the funds for the National Government Affirmative Action Fund (NGAAF).
On Tuesday, the members staged a walkout of the National Assembly chambers lamenting the lack of transparency from the Treasury on what had led to the delay in the remittance of the funds and the subsequent remedial action.
It all started after Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi rose on a point of order seeking guidance on the NG-CDF and NGAAF issue from Deputy Speaker Gladys Boss Shollei who was the session Speaker.
Wandayi said members have not been given any justification by the Treasury for not releasing the funds.
“We are now in the tenth month of the 2023/24 financial year and since this House disbursed funds no single cent has hit the accounts of the constituencies. This House is going for a long recess yet we know that school children are opening school in the first school of January. Those who sat KCPE are joining Form One in that same period yet the counties have no funds,” said Wandayi.
“Without NG-CDF bursaries and NGAAF more than three-quarters of the students will not go back to school. The House would also be in order not handle any other business in sympathy with the children of hustlers suffering out there and not knowing how they are going back to school,” he added.
Majority Leader Kimani Ichungwa, while agreeing that the funds release was a pressing issue, communicated to the House that he had engaged the Treasury and the NG-CDF CEO over the matter and assured members that the funds would be availed soon.
“I agree that this is a matter that ought to be treated with special attention. We have taken up this matter with the National Treasury which must deal with the twin issue of money to Parliament and money towards NG-CDF through the State Department for Planning,” said Ichungwa.
“I have engaged with the CS, NG-CDF CEO and Sstate Department Cabinet Secretary. They have indicated that they are working on ensuring there will be disbursements for the funds by the time we break,” he added.
His sentiments however attracted the ire of the members who started demanding for the immediate disbursement of the funds lest the sittings would not continue.
“I indicated to the CS that we cannot go to recess without clarity on what time the money will be hitting our accounts. The NG-CDF CEO also told me that we must act with equity so that no constituency is left behind. There are 36 constituencies whose proposals have not gone through and the members should strive to make sure the funds are availed,” Ichungwa said.
However, the Azimio and Kenya Kwanza Alliance lawmakers stormed out chanting “no CDF, no recess.”
Once outside the members vowed to paralyse House business and not even efforts by the Majority Chief Whip Sylvanus Osoro to get the MPs back to the chamber, nor the extensive bell ringing by the National Assembly sergeants at arms bore fruit.
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And to ensure that no House business took place, the MPs, majority allied to the opposition created a buffer line to stop anyone from going back into the chambers. Attempts by Osoro to have members access the chambers saw him whisked away by the zealous lawmakers.
“President William Ruto must drop everything he is doing and come back to the country and sort out this mess of NG-CDF. Without the funds children from all walks of life will continue suffering,” said Rangwe MP Lilian Gogo.
Nyando MP Jared Okello said majority of MPs had stalled projects and were scared of going to the village due to lack of funds.
“We are saying we have suspended any parliamentary business, any government business until the entire NG-CDF amounts are disbursed to our constituencies. I don’t know how the current regime expects us to go home empty handed,” said Okello.
Speaker Shollei was consequently forced to adjourn the Tuesday afternoon sittings due to lack of quorum which is a minimum of 50 MPs.
As per the calendar of the National Assembly, members are expected to take the long Christmas recess from Thursday and resume in February 2024.