In bar talk over the weekend, I had a chat a disillusioned member of one constituency development fund (CDF) committee who lamented the woes of his mis-managed committee. He’s a reluctant member who wants to make a positive difference, but it costs 5,000 shillings for him to travel to his rural area for a committee meeting where he will receive a 1,000 shilling sitting allowance. The MP (& CDF Chairman) has said not to worry, because there’s enough ‘float’ in the process to make it worth his time.
Certain MP’s have hailed CDF as the greatest act parliament has ever passed. The 2003 Act seeks to proportionally channel government funds (2.5% of annual government revenue) to each constituency, by-passing the central government (president and ministerial budget allocations) and financing rural projects directly. MP’s are now demigods who in addition to CDF funds,also control AIDS funds, bursary kitty, and roads kitty and have also been awarded more funds to set up rural offices.
There are two problems I see with CDF (i) The composition of the afore-mentioned CDF committee which can have 12 to 15 members comprising (elected MP, two councillors, one district officer, two reps of religious organization, two men, two women, one youth rep, one nominee from active NGO) (ii) CDF projects are to be audited and reported upon by the over-worked office of the Controller and Auditor-General.
I’d like to see audits of CDF done by private sector accountants and auditors who are much more qualified and who efficiently audit thousands of small companies even at constituency level around the country each year. Same with wealth declarations - it is better to have existing, certified accountants scrutinise the wealth returns of public officers instead of creating a whole new commission (Ethics & Integrity). The private sector would do a much better job.
At the CDF web site launch, the CDF management committee asked Transparency International not to secretly audit CDF projects without involving MP’s and at the same time indicated that they would work with the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission to combat corruption and misappropriation of CDF funds.
Certain MP’s have performed excellent development jobs with CDF funds including Peter Kenneth (NARC - Gatanga) and Billow Kerrow (KANU - Mandera Central). But not the MP who was the subject of our conversation and who may easily siphon over 100 million shillings from his constituents by the end of his term (he doesn’t expect to stand for re-election).
IT snafu? The Controversial MP profiles are back online at the Parliamentary site.
Pesa Point has signed up three banks so far; Diamond Trust, Fina and NIC (Move) and now has a total of 47 live ATM’s with a goal to set up 120 by year end. They compete directly Kenswitch, but are both still dwarfed by Co-op, KCB, Stanchart, and Barclays ATM networks.
- Equity Bank announced that they will launch 10 ATM’s on Kimathi Street (in front of Nation Centre) this month.
- The number of ATM’s is getting comical, and they are taking up much needed space in some shopping areas. So the new Nakumatt Junction has set up an ATM area with three different ATM machines side by side (Stanchart, NIC and KCB)
- Pesa Point stand-alone ATM’s look like old style telephone booths but inside resemble potty toilets, with their plastic casing and bright colours.
- KCB has waived joining fees for its credit cards till the end of the year.