MPs warn Treasury over budget

March 10, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 10 – Members of Parliament have locked horns with the Ministry of Finance over its proposal to withhold funding to county governments, the Equalisation Fund and the Judiciary Fund in budgets for the next two years.

A confidential concept paper prepared by the Ministry of Finance indicates that there will be no monies for these funds in the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 budgets since constitutional provisions on devolved governments remain suspended until the first election under the new Constitution.

The Treasury further argues that legally, there is no Cabinet Secretary in charge of Finance who is mandated to prepare the budgets for the three institutions, but the arguments have been challenged by the Parliamentary Budget Committee.

"We want compliance in the spirit and letter with Chapter 12 of the Constitution that remains active," said Committee Chairman Elias Mbau.

Mr Mbau faulted the arguments saying they are against the spirit of the constitution since only the structure of the devolved government has been suspended and not funds, while the current Minister for Finance has been mandated to take the responsibilities of the envisaged Cabinet Secretary.

"The Minister responsible is hereby required to comply with article 221 of the constitution," Mr Mbau said.

Article 221 states that the Cabinet Secretary in charge of Finance should at least two months before the end of each financial year submit to Parliament estimates of the revenue and expenditure of the national government for the next financial year. The Judicial Service Commission and the Parliamentary Service Commission shall submit their respective budgets.

The presentation gives the House time to review the estimates and seek public views before endorsing the use of the money.

The Treasury in its concept paper argues that that the Judiciary Fund is not operational yet since the Constitution says it shall be instituted within two years. It further argues that Equalization Fund shall be operation in two years.

Committee members Danson Mungatana and John Mbadi have vowed that MPs will fight what they termed as attempts by officials at the Treasury to sabotage the implementation of the new Constitution.

"The Treasury cannot purport interpreting the law to suit their interests," Mr Mbadi said.

Mr Mungatana claimed that the officials want to continue holding to the powers that the Treasury had in the old Constitution.

"They want to play games with the people of Kenya. They want to retain the powers they had to do whatever they want within the ethnic walls of Treasury," he said.

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