A significant chunk of the Sh1.8 billion that the Treasury allocated for community projects a year ago is either idling in constituency bank accounts or tied up in dormant projects.
A survey of 28 constituencies by the National Taxpayers Association (NTA) shows that Sh179.1 million was squandered in poorly executed projects, both complete and incomplete, in various parts of the country.
In total, Sh242 million — or 13.4 per cent of the allocation to Constituency Development Fund (CDF) in the 2010/2011 financial year — was wasted, unaccounted for or misused, according to the report released in Nairobi on Tuesday.
MPs have also been using the funds to gain political capital ahead of the March 4 elections.
“We have noted a worrying trend where elected leaders concentrate resources in areas that overwhelmingly voted for them during elections,” said Martin Napisa, the NTA’s national co-ordinator.
The money meant for grassroots projects is mostly lost in inflated deals sealed mainly through single-sourcing of contractors drawn within CDF committees.
This report, the final in a series of assessments that started in 2008 covering CDF and LAFT-funded projects, shows that members of Parliament could not account for Sh40.5 million while another Sh22.2 million was tied up in abandoned projects.
Khwisero, Isiolo North, Rongo, Ikolomani and Hamisi constituencies were listed as the worst performers. Khwisero alone reportedly wasted Sh58.9 million or 81.2 per cent of its Sh72.5 million allocation for the period.
Belgut constituency, whose MP was Charles Keter, topped the list of best performers followed by Runyenjes, Galole, Magarini and Wajir West.
While the latest reported level of fund misuse (13.4 per cent) is lower than 17 per cent in the previous survey, it raises eyebrows just one month to the March 4 General Election.
Elected leaders – governors and county assembly members – are expected to assume the duty of identifying priority projects and allocating funds to them.
Apart from an equivalent of 15 per cent of national revenue (Sh200 billion) that counties expect to control after the election, changes proposed to the CDF Act seek to hand over the constituency development funds to governors.
The NTA report highlights an emerging trend showing that leaders at the grassroots (CDF committees) increasingly ask for bribes equivalent to a specific percentage of the money awarded to a project before committing funds.
“This is contrary to Article 201 which requires use of public finance to promote an equitable society and equitable development of the country, including making special provision for marginalised groups and areas,” it said.
Of the LATF-funded projects, a Sh8 million bridge in Busia captured attention of NTA assessors. The money has been spent, but only the foundation estimated by quantity surveyors to cost Sh900,000 was visible on the ground.
NTA national chairman Peter Kubebea Tuesday urged county governments to learn from the experiences and challenges of managing CDF.
“As we go into the county governments, we must guard against partisan interests that influence allocation of resources and ensure projects are evenly distributed across regions,” Mr Kubebea said in a speech read on his behalf.
So far, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has handled over 200 cases related to loss of CDF money, vice-chairperson Irene Keino said. The cases range from diversion of funds, outright embezzlement and patronage by politicians.
“I can bet that corrupt networks are readying for the devolved governments and we must all be on the lookout to keep them at bay,” Ms Keino said.