Senators in court over revenue law stand-off

June 13, 2013 11:30 am
The Senators want the Supreme Court judges to interpret if the President was justified to sign the contentious Revenue law. CFM.
The Senators want the Supreme Court judges to interpret if the President was justified to sign the contentious Revenue law. CFM.

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 13 – The Senate on Thursday filed a case at the Supreme Court seeking an advisory opinion on the decision taken by President Uhuru Kenyatta to assent to the Division of Revenue Bill.

They want Supreme Court Judges to issue an advisory on what role they have in the making of the Division of Revenue Bill and their role in safeguarding the interests of devolved units.

The Senators led Speaker Ekwe Ethuro were represented in the suit by lawyer Kioko Kilukumi.

Ethuro and majority leader Kithure Kindiki said that they had filed the reference to seek clarity on their role and were not intent on dwelling on supremacy wars between the Senate and the National Assembly.

“We are filing this case because we respect institutions. There have been many opinions out there and we want to bring it to a closure so that many other opinions do not contribute to confuse Kenyans even more,” Ethuro said.

“We have not sued anybody, we are just seeking legal clarity on a question we think is of national importance,” the majority leader added.

Senators James Orengo (Siaya) and Kiraitu Murungi (Meru) have urged Supreme Court judges to expedite the process of rendering the opinion even as they vowed not to discus the merits of the case from outside the court.

“The matter is now properly before the court and we will wait for the courts’ wisdom,” Orengo said.

Senators are angered following the decision taken by President Kenyatta to assent to the Division of Revenue Bill which was passed by the National Assembly which ignored their input.

The leader of the majority coalition in the Senate said that they will however, pursue the other ‘political programme’ also aimed at safeguarding the place of the Senate.

“This is part one of our programme we have part 2 which is political because we realise that this is not an academic or theoretical exercise. For those who think that the Senate lacks politicians will shortly see that the Senate has very serious, senior, responsible and patriotic politicians,” he said.

On Wednesday, Senators united with Governors and resolved to engineer the first amendment to the Constitution of Kenya 2010 through the popular mandate of the people to give the Senate greater say on all Bills that touch on aspects of devolution.

The Act sets aside Sh210 billion to the counties as opposed to the Sh258 billion that had been recommended by the Senate but which was later overturned by the National Assembly.

Senators are also set to adjourn business next week and embark on a nationwide campaign to collect one million signatures for a constitutional amendment, as provided in the supreme law.

President Kenyatta assented to the contentious legislation on Monday night, prompting the Senate to take legal action.

President Kenyatta has since defended his action, saying he acted strictly within the law in assenting to the Bill.

In a statement, the President stated that in the aftermath of the stalemate between the two Houses of Parliament, the options of the Executive under the law are limited to not acting at all, vetoing the Bill or Assenting to the Bill.

He explained that the option of not acting at all would not help the situation as the Bill would become law after 14 days while vetoing the Bill would similarly have led to further delays in the budgetary process.

He indicated that the most prudent cause of action was to assent to the Bill in order to facilitate the timely conclusion of the budgetary process and avert the risk of bringing Government business to a halt.

National Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich was scheduled to unveil the 2013/14 budget statement on Thursday afternoon.


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