, NAIROBI, Kenya Aug 26 – Parliament on Friday approved three Bills dealing with the management and the handling of national revenue in effect inching the House closer to drawing the curtains on the Parliament’s four-day legislative marathon.
The House agreed to sit on Friday to conclude all business to beat the midnight deadline.
In Friday’s extraordinary sitting, the MPs approved the Contingencies Fund and County Emergency Funds Bill, the National Government Loans Guarantee Bill, the Commission on Revenue Allocation Bill after making several amendments.
The CIC had wanted to stop Parliament from processing the Bills, but they are now headed to the President for assent after MPs disregarded an order from the courts.
The lawmakers used the first 30 minutes to set the ceiling for money to cater for national emergencies at Sh10 billion. In the current Budget, the Contingency Fund is capped at Sh2 billion.
The Finance and Trade Committee in Parliament whipped MPs to scrap the two percent cap that the Treasury had placed on the Contingency Fund, saying that it was perhaps too much to cater for the vague “unforeseen circumstances.”
They told the Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, that should the need to raise more money arise, then he can as well do it through the Supplementary Budget, because the Contingency Fund has to be managed carefully.
“The Contingency Fund is actually an overdraft facility. It is an amount of money that needs to be carefully controlled. This fund has been abused in the past and there’s evidence to that effect,” The Committee chairman Chris Okemo said.
The MPs then approved the National Government Loans Guarantee Bill, specifying the terms, criteria and conditions that will be used when the government stands in as security for loans to develop infrastructure in the national and county projects.
Garsen MP Danson Mungatana proposed that Parliament should ensure that the counties are also considered fairly and that the projects likely to spur economic growth should be given priority when it comes to loan guarantees.
MPs agreed that the economically challenged counties needed a boost, saying that such projects as geothermal power, roads and other infrastructure like ports, all which have a national character, national interest should override the county interests, but the county needs also have to be given priority.
The Commission on Revenue Allocation Bill was also amended and approved to allow for the smooth management of the commission set up under the Constitution.
Parliament’s Finance Committee proposed that the Commission should be allowed, as provided in the Constitution, to pick its own staff through a transparent and competitive process.
“The CRA should be allowed to recruit its own staff but in a competitive process, the matter of having the government second staff to the commission is an administrative matter,” said Mr Okemo.
MPs approved the amendment, despite a spirited protest from the Finance Minister. The lawmakers said that it is possible for the commission to get expertise from the government without legislating the issue.
However, Githunguri MP Njoroge Baiya argued: “We have to make it mandatory for the government to second staff to the commission. If you give the commission independence but deny it the opportunity to get the expertise, you’re giving the government an opportunity to stifle its growth and its mandate,” he said.
But the chairman of Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee, Abdikadir Mohammed, ruled that the Constitution was clear that each independent commission should hire its own staff.