Now MPs get say in budget making

May 19, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 19 – The spirit of give and take prevailed in Parliament on Tuesday as the House passed the Fiscal Management Bill that will allow all legislators to participate in the budget making process.

MPs agreed to amendments proposed by President Mwai Kibaki that reduced the role of the new budget committee to a watchdog body, as opposed to the earlier intention of giving it powers to participate in the allocation of resources.

The Executive on the other hand gave in to amendments to its proposals to include the House ‘in the management of public resources in instances set out by the constitution’.

The new law, which now awaits Presidential assent, requires the Finance Minister to submit budget proposals to the House Budget Committee three months prior to budget day, after which the committee will make proposals for amendments on resource allocations to various vote heads.

“It is not the intention of the Executive to oust Parliament but to ensure there is clear separation of powers,” Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta said while moving the amendments.

The Committee will be allowed to reduce different vote heads by one percent. Chairman of the Budget Committee Otieno Ogindo welcomed the new law.

“All we want is to involve everyone including the President, who is the MP for Othaya constituency, in the process,” he said.

“Parliament will continue playing its oversight role and also suggest to the Executive the inclusions, deletions and subtractions. We can now while on the floor of the House decide which regions or projects will get funding,” Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale added.
The House had the bill last year but President Mwai Kibaki refused to assent to it, expressing reservations with certain provisions that gave the House immense power in the budgeting process.

Following the delay in passing the law, Mr Kenyatta will not be required to submit the proposals but the legislators will have an opportunity to scrutinise the budget.

Still in Parliament, Mr Kenyatta tabled fresh supplementary budget estimates. The new figures are meant to correct discrepancies detected in the initial estimates tabled last month, where Sh10.7 billion was wrongly appropriated.

A joint Budget and Finance Committee conducted a probe on the discrepancies and absolved the Finance Minister of any wrongdoing. House Speaker Kenneth Marende ruled that Parliament will now debate the Appropriation Bill, which was withdrawn following the discrepancies.

At the same time, the House will now investigate the state of 12 Anglo Leasing contracts. Mr Marende ordered the Committee on Legal Affairs to submit a report within two months after MPs expressed dissatisfaction with an answer given by the Attorney General in the House on the controversial deals.

“Given that the AG has no objection and further bearing in mind the amount of monies involved and the possible loss the government may have incurred, I order that the committee inquires into it,” Mr Marende said in his ruling.

According to the AG five contracts were terminated and the state recovered Sh1 billion. Four others have pending cases while three of them were successfully concluded.

AG Amos Wako however failed to give actual details of how much money the state lost in the dubious deals.


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