BBI to burst constituencies kitty by Sh7b, say experts

Thursday, December 3rd, 2020 00:00 |
Former NG-CDF chairman Elias Mbau says clamour for the creation of additional constituencies is driven by pursuit for equality in revenue allocation. Photo/PD/FILE

Eric Wainaina @EWainaina

Resources allocated to constituencies through the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) annually, could grow by Sh7 billion should a proposal by the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) to increase the number of electoral areas be adopted. 

The bill proposes an additional 70 constituencies across the country, and should the current minimum amount of Sh100 million allocated to each electoral area, the figure goes up to Sh7 billion, besides other financial allocations awarded to constituencies such as the presidential bursaries.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is expected to create the new constituencies, within six months after the amendments are enacted, and already a section of leaders have protested the manner in which they have been distributed on grounds of unfairness.

Former NG-CDF chairman Elias Mbau argues that while annual allocations could be determined afresh since the kitty is for the first time being enshrined in the Constitution, it is highly unlikely the figure given to each county will be reduced.

“The proposal will be an addition to the CDF kitty because it will be Sh100 million as it is now, multiplied by the 70 proposed constituencies.

That will be an addition because the amounts for each constituency cannot be reduced.

The principle is that you cannot be deprived of what you already have, it can only be an increase,” said Mbau who is  a former Maragua MP.

Raised concern

The proposal has also raised concern over the cost of maintaining the constituencies, since Kenyans will have to dig deeper to pay salaries  and allowances for the MPs as well as the cost of running and  putting up the CDF offices. 

The draft that was unveiled last week by President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga, indicates Kiambu which currently has 12 constituencies will get six new ones, Nakuru five, Kilifi (four) while Uasin Gishu, Narok, Kajiado, Mombasa, Kwale and Bungoma counties will get three each.

Meru, Bomet, Kakamega, Kisumu counties are slated to get two new electoral areas while Mandera, Embu, Makueni, Kirinyaga, Murang’a, Turkana, West Pokot, Nandi, Laikipia, Siaya and Nyamira counties have been allocated one each.

IEBC had already kicked off the delimitation of boundaries as required by Article 89(2) of the Constitution that says the exercise is undertaken between 8-12 years.

 According to Mbau, the clamour for the creation of additional constituencies, has been driven by pursuit for equity in the vote, to ensure equal representation and equality in revenue allocation, saying allocation of resources is about the desire to deliver effectively and efficiently.

“Some are depopulated and others are over populated. If we continue allocating funds, with the current formula and number of people in these areas as it is now, that is tantamount to continued marginalisation and deprivation of national cake to those constituencies that have more population,” he told the People Daily

The function of the kitty is today restricted to construction and rehabilitation of schools, paying schools fees to the needy children as well as construction of police stations, after most of the previous functions were devolved.

According to the CDF Act, the kitty, “shall be a national fund consisting of moneys of an amount of not less than 2.5 per cent of all the national government ordinary revenue collected in every financial year. ”The kitty is a brainchild of former Nyandarua Senator Muriuki Karue. 

Ruiru MP Ng’ang’a King’ara, whose constituency has 490,120 people, has been arguing that for equity and fairness, the electoral areas, which are in the category of urban, should be divided into three.

“Ruiru has been getting Sh30 million for bursary to share among 90,000 learners while another MP gets the same amount for 9,000 learners.

It means that in Ruiru, one person gets Sh333 but Sh3,000 in the other constituency.

In Ruiru, one school has about 4,000 pupils and in some areas some schools have less than 300 pupils yet you get an equal amount to develop infrastructure, this is suicidal, “the MP said.

Critical role

But with six new constituencies having been allocated to Kiambu county that could translate to Sh60 million more cash in CDF, King’ara said he hopes Ruiru will be among the beneficiaries to ensure equity and fairness in representation and cash allocation.

Kanduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi whose constituency has 300,000 people, said that the move to create more constituencies, will promote fairness in allocation of CDF.

“The new constituencies will help in promoting fairness and equity in representation and CDF allocation. Constituencies will be getting funds they deserve based on their respective population,” Wamunyinyi said.

CDF, he said, has played a critical role in transforming the regions, noting that before it was restricted to matters of security and education, it had helped in putting up water projects, health facilities, and improving rural roads among others.

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