Suspend use of Finance law, state urged
The Finance Committee says some sections are unconstitutional
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.
Senate Finance Committee chairman Billow Kerrow chat with Finance CS Henry Rotich at Parliament Buildings on February 17