NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 20- The Grand Coalition Government Parliamentary group on Tuesday defied efforts by President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to convince them to support the Finance Bill maintaining that they would shoot it down if it was tabled in Parliament without the proposed amendments.
Sources say the MPs told the two coalition leaders that they will not pass the Finance Bill which legalises taxation measures outlined by Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta in the June budget without amendments to control bank interest rates and cost of fuel.
“The MPs told off the Executive over the current inflation rates in the country arguing that the said amendments would help stabilise such situations in the future,” said the source who is authorised to talk to the media.
Although MPs insist on having the amendments in the Bill, Kenyatta maintains that they should be introduced in the form of a substantive motion and must not be included in the Bill.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Nyakach MP Pollyns Ochieng revealed that among the amendments was a proposal regulating the interest rates charged by banks.
“Life has become unbearable for many Kenyans and it gets worse when you increase the interest rates together with the fuel and food prices. We have to put a ceiling on the bank interest rates,” he argued.
Ochieng also took issue with the manner in which the meeting, which was moderated by Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, was conducted noting that the two principals declined to give their position on the way forward.
“The President and Prime Minister refused to talk so if things go as they are right now we will not pass the Bill,” he stressed.
The legislators also proposed several ways which could be adopted to control the current inflation rates.
In addition, the fate of the anti corruption nominees also came into question with the MPs insisting that the President and Prime Minister justify their endorsement.
Budalangi MP Ababu Namwamba challenged the two principals to defend the nominees as well as the Finance Bill on the floor of the House saying it was wrong to conduct such discussions outside Parliament.
Last week, the credibility of Mumo Matemo, who has been nominated as the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC) Chairman, was put on the spot after concerns surrounding his conduct at the Kenya Revenue Authority emerged.
“We have made it very clear- that what comes first is the welfare of the people. And KICC (Kenyatta International Conference Center) is not the place to make the law; so if government wants to push for any particular position we meet on the floor of the House,” stressed Namwamba.
Central Imenti MP Gitobu Imanyara also faulted the two principals for calling the MPs to a kamukunji to discuss parliamentary affairs.
Imanyara accused the two leaders of abuse of office arguing that they wanted to influence the MPs’ decision on the Finance Bill and the anti corruption commission.
“It is an unconstitutional interference with the legislative functions of Parliament. Parliament is required to perform its tasks in public, to allow the people know what’s going on,” he said citing reference to the former regime.
He added that he would raise the matter in the House stressing that the era of high handedness by the government was over.
“Night meetings and kamukunjis would be the order of the day if we let such practices to go on, and that will subvert the Constitution,” he said.