Friday, February 8, 2013

Court stops release of Sh10bn CDF cash

Kisumu Town East MP Shakeel Shabbir flanked by constituents tours the stalled Katunga Health Centre put up using CDF money in this file photo. The High Court has stopped the disbursement of Sh10 billion Constituency Development Fund (CDF) money for completion of pending projects before the elections February 8, 2013. FILE

Kisumu Town East MP Shakeel Shabbir flanked by constituents tours the stalled Katunga Health Centre put up using CDF money in this file photo. The High Court has stopped the disbursement of Sh10 billion Constituency Development Fund (CDF) money for completion of pending projects before the elections February 8, 2013. FILE 

By VINCENT AGOYA [email protected]

The High Court has stopped the disbursement of Sh10 billion Constituency Development Fund (CDF) money for completion of pending projects before the elections.

Lady Justice Mumbi Ngugi Friday issued an injunction blocking the CDF board from releasing the money and restrained officials from using it until a petition that had raised issues of “transparency and accountability” is heard and determined.

"An order is hereby issued restraining the CDF board from disbursing the Sh10.1billion released by the Ministry of Finance on or about January 2 to constituencies,” the judge said.

The petitioner had objected to the release of the money at the end of the term of parliament and the onset of political campaigns.

The Institute for Social accountability (TISA) had petitioned the court. The order also stated that public officers refrain from making payments or utilising the money.

TISA wanted the release of the funds stopped and its expenditure frozen, in case it had already been released, on the grounds that the release at the end of parliament's term violated the principles of "transparency and accountability".

In the petition, TISA had also argued that the dissolution of parliament’s supervisory role over the spending of the CDF kitty was a “compromise” and a sure way of opening up loopholes for abuse "especially at campaign time".

The lobby wrote a complaint letter to the CDF management Board on January 16 recommending that the board desists from disbursing the money or from utilising it if it had already been channelled to respective constituencies until after the elections.

It was forced to move to court on February 6 when no response was forthcoming. 

It had argued in the petition that  the government printer’s failure to publish the Constituencies Development Fund Act 2013 over one month after it was passed by Parliament and assented to by the President was a violation of constitutional provisions on access to information as well raising matters of  transparency and accountability.

Parliament’s failure to invite the public to express views on the process of enactment of the CDF Act 2013 was also cited as a flagrant violation of the national value and principle of public participation in an important national process.

The lobby had sued the Attorney General, the CDF Management Board and enjoined former MPs as interested parties.

The case will be heard on February 14.

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