Inside Politics

Muturi tells MPs to alter the law on CDF revival

Friday, September 9th, 2022 04:00 | By
Attorney General Justin Muturi.
Attorney General Justin Muturi. PHOTO/Courtesy.

Outgoing Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi yesterday advised incoming Members of Parliament to detach themselves from the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF).

He also urged them to amend the statute establishing the fund for it to continue being operational.

Muturi told them that going by the decision of the Supreme Court to annul the 2013 Act that established the fund, there is a likelihood that the current case in court challenging the 2015 NG-CDF Act could also be annulled.

He said that the contents of the judgment in the 2013 case are clear and could apply to the current case.

In its verdict, the Supreme Court found that the 2013 law allowing MPs to manage funds offends division of revenue and public finance law.

“The judgment on CDF was delivered on August 8 and it sounded like a bombshell. However, all is not lost. The CDF largely has done wonders, although we have issues here and there on procurement. I know all of us would want to say that the decision made by the Supreme Court was mainly about the 2013 case,” he said.

Muturi added: “To be fair, we still know that we are waiting for another judgment and, going by the body of this case, the judgment will most likely go the way the 2013 one went, and this one will now be binding. To save this, let us look at the law, it’s possible for CDF to exist without the participation of MPs. Let it be run by members of the public.”

Muturi disclosed that talks were ongoing to save the fund. He told MPs to amend the Act to have the fund entrenched in the national government so that the 2.5 per cent sharable revenue supposed to go to the fund is shared by the government.

Currently, he said, the law is clear that revenue is only shared between the national and county governments, and thus CDF is not entrenched anywhere.

The law stipulates that the constituency fund is 2.5 per cent of the shareable revenue.

“Issues of sharable revenue involve two levels of government – counties and national government. Let’s have something that removes this 2.5 per cent from the shareable revenue so that this revenue can come from the national government,” Muturi added.

Still operational

His sentiments come days after the NG-CDF clarified that the fund is still operational despite the court ruling on the original CDF.

The board’s chief executive, Yusuf Mbuno, clarified that the apex court never termed the current NG-CDF as unconstitutional but instead ruled on the 2013 Act, which initially formed CDF.

During an orientation session at Parliament Buildings recently, MPs said the 13th Parliament would prioritise the revival of the fund to benefit the public and not MPs.

Muturi, who addressed a news conference yesterday, took the opportunity to clarify that cabinet secretaries (CSs) would be answering questions in Parliament.

According to him, members will only have to amend Standing Order 253 to allow strangers to address Parliament.

“To have CSs in Parliament, all that is required is to tinker Standing Order 253 to allow strangers to appear in the House, just like we have clerks who are always in the chamber and we do not call them strangers. The incoming Speaker is aware of this and I hope he will make it a reality,” he said. Muturi said this will not the first time he will be pushing to have CSs appear in the House, although similar efforts were fought by previous regimes.

“It is important that CSs respond to certain queries. When a chairman of a committee reads a statement, he is just a messenger. Kenya is a developing country and we can’t move away from this. My argument then is that CSs must come to Parliament because, if the Constitution stays, we can summon anyone,” he added.

In 2018, the National Assembly reintroduced Question Time following amendments to the Standing Orders.

Departmental committees

The move by the Procedure and House Rules committee did not, however, mean that CSs would appear in the chamber to respond to MPs' questions, but would appear before their respective departmental committees when required to do so.

Muturi, who is eyeing a Cabinet slot, said he is proud of the achievements he has made as Speaker. Among his greatest achievements, he said, is ensuring the passage of various laws in the Fifth Schedule that had timelines, as well as addressing the welfare of staff in Parliament when he served as the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) chairperson.

“It gives me great satisfaction that the staff we have is highly trained,” he said.

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