MPs threaten to cripple State spending in teachers row

September 7, 2011 1:28 pm

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 7 – Members of Parliament have threatened to shoot down the Finance and Appropriations Bills if the demands by teachers for the employment of an additional 28,000 tutors are not met.

Passage of the Bills is mandatory for the government to get authority to spend money, and failure to pass them would cripple State operations.

The threat was made as legislators unanimously supported the ongoing countrywide teacher’s strike accusing the Executive arm of government “of having its priorities mixed up.”

Normal Parliamentary business was suspended for one and a half hours to make room for deliberation on the issue after North Imenti MP Silas Ruteere pushed for debate.

Mr Ruteere accused the Executive of turning a blind eye to the ongoing countrywide strike at the detriment of school children urging it to meet the teachers’ demands.

“To get house allowances, the teachers had to strike; to get commuter allowance the teachers had to strike, to get salary increment the teachers had to strike. And what does that mean? The poor Kenyan children always go without tuition,” he charged.

Ikolomani MP Boni Khalwale seconded the Motion arguing that it was ironical that Kenya continued losing billions of shillings to graft but could not afford to employ more teachers and provide better remuneration for them.

He noted that the monies lost in Anglo Leasing, Tokyo Embassy deal, Free Primary Education and other grand scams had never been recovered.

“Free education without teachers is a joke. It’s almost like boarding a bus without a driver; it is like jumping out of a plane without a parachute, like taking a patient to theatre without a surgeon,” he charged.

MPs Martha Karua (Gichugu), Ekwe Ethuro (Turkana Central) and Aden Duale (Dujis) all said they would shoot down the Bills if they did not include estimates to meet the teachers’ demands.

Eldama Ravine MP Moses Lessonet accused the government of ignoring the recommendations of the Budget committee. However last week when the finance estimates for the year 2011/2012 were being guillotined, Budget Committee chairman Elias Mbau (Maragwa) said the committee supported the estimates as they were.

Deputy Leader of Government Business Amos Kimunya found himself in murky waters during the session when he accused teachers of wasting tuition fees which had already been paid by parents.

He complained that he had contributed Sh600,000 for private tuition of 150 students in his Kipipiri constituency for the current term.

However Dr Khalwale charged at him saying the money would not cater for the bulk of school going children in the country.

“The Honourable Kimunya is not only a government minister but he is also the Deputy Leader of Government Business.  He knows that the reason for tuition is because teachers know that during normal hours there is not enough teaching,” he argued.

“And that is why you are financing tuition because you are rich and can afford it. Do you think your tuition sponsoring in Kipipiri will help the children in Ikolomani?” he retorted.

However when the Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta stood up before the House to explain what steps the government intended to take to address the crisis, he said that the current economic situation in the country could not support their demands.

He said that there was need for more time and discussion between all the players to resolve the issue.

“Let us not make the children suffer; let us discuss.  As it is the shortfall of teachers is 76,000. We have a challenge and it is not just about the teachers, it also about the overall economy,” he said.

Other MPs who stood in support of the Motion were Eseli Simiyu (Kimilili), Gitobu Imanyara (Imenti Central), Joyce Laboso (Sotik), Clement Wambugu (Mathioya), Joseph Kiuna (Molo), Abdi Nuh (Bura), Linah Jebii (Marakwet East),  Charles Kilonzo (Yatta) and John Mbadi (Gwassi).


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