NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 17 – An attempt by Members of Parliament to control the government’s budget-making process has hit a snag after President Mwai Kibaki rejected the Fiscal Management Bill.
In a Cabinet Brief sent to the newsrooms by the Presidential Press Service, the President said that the Cabinet would instead table an Organic Budget Bill that will have been harmonised with the Fiscal Management Bill.
The statement sent after Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting explained: “The Cabinet meeting decided to hold consultations with the Parliamentary Committee on Budget to resolve issues which made it difficult for the President to give assent to the Fiscal Management Bill 2008.”
Earlier in Parliament, Speaker Kenneth Marende said that the President had returned the Bill to the House with a memorandum explaining his reservations.
“Honourable Members his Excellency has declined to assent to the Bill and submitted a memorandum to my office giving reasons why he has not assented to the Bill and his proposed recommendations for your consideration,” he said adding that he would table the memorandum to the House on Wednesday afternoon.
The Bill was introduced by Maragua MP Elias Mbau and unanimously passed by the House last December. The law would have legalised a parliamentary budget office to enforce and monitor compliance with targets and fiscal proposals and punish non-compliance. Former Alego Usoga MP Peter Oloo Aringo, had floated the idea about a decade ago but faced opposition from the government.
Currently, Treasury has the sole prerogative of drawing up the budget and presenting it before the House for discussion and endorsement. The Finance Ministry however incorporates suggestions from the private sector, development agencies and the civil society forums.
Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara however questioned why the President took more than the pre-requisite 21 days to respond to the Bill.
“Mr Speaker, before you present the memorandum (from the President) can the Attorney General confirm when he sent the Bill to the President so that we can see why there has been so much delay in sending this memorandum,” Mr Gitobu inquired.
Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka committed to communicate the concerns to the Attorney General.
The President has however assented to 16 other Bills including the amended Finance Bill that excluded MPs from paying taxes on their allowances.