Sus­pend use of Fi­nance law, state urged

The Fi­nance Com­mit­tee says some sec­tions are un­con­sti­tu­tional

The Star (Kenya) - - Politics Parliament - IMENDE BEN­JAMIN @Akhasakhulu

The Se­nate has urged the gov­ern­ment to sus­pend the Pub­lic Fi­nance Man­age­ment (Amend­ment) Act.

It said the Ex­ec­u­tive is us­ing it to mi­cro­man­age the coun­ties, hence open­ing room for mis­man­age­ment of pub­lic funds. It told Fi­nance CS Henry Rotich to amend or delete sec­tions of the Act that al­low dis­burse­ment of 50 per cent of funds to the coun­ties be­fore county as­sem­blies can ap­prove and cap ex­pen­di­ture.

The Se­nate Fi­nance Com­mit­tee says this is un­con­sti­tu­tional, adding the coun­ties should op­er­ate in­de­pen­dently and only Par­lia­ment has pow­ers to al­lo­cate pub­lic funds through the bud­get.

“Sec­tion 25 caps the coun­ties to in­crease their bud­get by seven per cent, while 37 re­stricts the coun­ties to in­crease by one per cent on what the na­tional gov­ern­ment has agreed to al­lo­cate. It’s against the Con­sti­tu­tion,” chair­man Bil­low Ker­row said.

He said the Ex­ec­u­tive uses the sec­tions to dic­tate county in­vest­ments, with­out res­i­dents’ par­tic­i­pa­tion. Ker­row termed this dis­crim­i­na­tory.

“The amend­ments al­low the gov­ern­ment to dis­burse 50 per cent of the to­tal rev­enue be­fore we pass the bud­get law. This cre­ates av­enues to use pub­lic re­sources to push in­di­vid­ual in­ter­ests,” he said.

In his re­sponse, Rotich de­fended the amend­ments, say­ing they pro­vide op­por­tu­nity for the county gov­ern­ments to con­tinue with their ac­tiv­i­ties in a new fi­nan­cial year, when funds from the na­tional gov­ern­ment are de­layed.

“I con­sulted the At­tor­ney Gen­eral and he saw this as a good idea so MCAs can­not hold vot­ers to ran­som when they de­lay to pass bills to ap­prove the Bud­get,” he said.

Rotich spoke when he ap­peared be­fore the com­mit­tee. Se­na­tor Moses We­tang’ula, a mem­ber of the com­mit­tee, dis­missed the At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s of­fice as “in­com­pe­tent and not straight­foward”.

“They failed the na­tion on An­glo Leas­ing and have also failed it on many other is­sues. That’s why all the laws from that of­fice are mis­chievous,” he said.

Machakos Se­na­tor Mu­tula Kilonzo Ju­nior urged the CS to work closely with the county gov­ern­ments to de­velop poli­cies that will dic­tate their ex­pen­di­ture, by cap­ping their bud­getary al­lo­ca­tions.

The com­mit­tee asked Rotich to com­mu­ni­cate back “within the short­est time pos­si­ble” when they will amend or delete the sec­tions. It warned him against cre­at­ing new laws and amend­ments as the ones al­ready in place could man­age pub­lic fi­nances.

“Most coun­ties have not cre­ated the Eco­nomic Coun­cils to ad­vise on bud­gets and other in­vest­ments. You should force them to come up with the coun­cils,” Kisumu Se­na­tor Anyang Ny­ong’o said.

/HEZRON NJOROGE

Se­nate Fi­nance Com­mit­tee chair­man Bil­low Ker­row chat with Fi­nance CS Henry Rotich at Par­lia­ment Build­ings on Fe­bru­ary 17

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