, NAIROBI, Kenya, July 21 – Members of County Assemblies are set to move to court on Tuesday to seek an interpretation of the mandate of the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) and the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) in setting budget ceilings for counties.
Chairman Nur Nassir Abdi who spoke at a forum for MCAs on Monday stated that the setting of ceilings is not the duty of any specific body and that the necessary procedures need to be followed.
The Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo wrote to all Governors and County Assembly Clerks last month and attached the formula by CRA notifying them on the need to comply with the Public Financial Management Framework when compiling the 2014/15 Budget to enable her office to approve them in time.
“The Controller of Budget seems to have the wrong understanding of the law. The leadership of county assemblies feel that they have done the budgets of the county governments this year in sync with the law, rightfully so and without breaking any provisions of the law and that they are not willing to be hoodwinked or to be directed to break the same laws that they are supposed to uphold,” Abdi stated.
He indicated that the resolutions that have been made is that the County Assemblies Forum will seek for an interpretation of the matter from the High Court on the mandates of those various commissions in trying to direct how budgets are done outside the law.
“The budgets have been made and they are laws as of now because the appropriations laws have been enacted by the various county assemblies so unless anyone challenges them and goes to seek a constitutionals reference, then they stand as law,” he said.
“We will go to court possibly tomorrow because as it stands now, civil servants including nurses and doctors might not even receive their pay for this month of July courtesy of some of the commissions believing that they are the ones who should make the budget contrary to what is stipulated in the law.”
Nur however stressed that they will not adjust their budgets since they were developed within the confines of law.
“We are not averse to limits or ceilings. The issue that is not being understood is that county assemblies are not saying that they are not bound by ceilings, but who makes ceilings? The budget making is a process, it is not an event and the process stipulates as to when ceilings are recommended, how ceilings are negotiated and how ceilings are arrived at so it is a process. For one office to purport that they are the ones who set the ceilings is out of law,” he said.
“What we are against is for CRA through a circular to direct that county government entities must abide to certain ceilings which they are not entitled to given the law as it is. The matter of ceilings is a standard practice in national government, it is standard practice in county governments and ceilings are negotiated within departments, among departments and it is spearheaded by the treasury and county governments.”
The Office of the Controller of Budget Stephen Masha had cautioned the county assembly speakers that his office will not approve withdrawal of public funds for budgets that are against the law adding that they are concerned by the high cost incurred by the MCAs in foreign travels expenditure.