, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 14 – The Parliamentary Service Commission will not pay a Sh55 million bill incurred by the Senate in legal fees when it moved to the Supreme Court to seek an advisory on its involvement in the Division of Revenue Bill.
PSC Vice chairman Adan Keynan told the National Assembly’s Budget Committee that the commission resolved not to pay the lawyers, as the Senate had not sought its permission before procuring the services of the legal firm.
“This Clerk (Senate Clerk Jeremiah Nyegene who is also the PSC Secretary) is torn between two Speakers because recently the Senate made a resolution as a House and the decision came to the commission we found it untenable and unacceptable to pay over Sh55 million which was not budgeted for,” said Keynan as he tried to explain why the commission requires an additional Sh8.3 billion to bridge a financing gap in its budget.
MPs had also questioned the logic behind the proposal to elevate the Director-General Parliamentary Joint Services to join Clerks of the Senate and National Assembly as accounting officers.
Keynan explained that the dilemma Nyegene and the commission found itself in, was the reason they decided to create directorates to enable the day-to-day administration and spending decisions of each House without necessarily the approval or recourse of the accounting officers.
Budget Committee members led by Chairperson Mutava Musyimi say Parliament could incur more costs by not paying the lawyers as the institution could be sued.
Kitui Senator David Musila who represents the Senate in the commission objected to a proposal by Musyimi to have the Senate surcharged the legal fees saying they were forced to move to the Judiciary because the National Assembly Speaker refused attempts to resolve the standoff internally.
“If I was to act as judge on this matter, I would have said PSC should pay and then surcharge the Senate because somebody must take responsibility so that we don’t drag the dignity of the House to more complications in terms of flow of procedures,” said Musyimi.
“Why should the Senate be surcharged?” Asked Musila, “Yet when you go through the (Supreme Court) ruling you will find that the it is people who refused to follow the mechanism of resolving a dispute internally which should not be blamed on the Senate.”
The Senate filed a case at the Supreme Court in June seeking an advisory opinion on the decision taken by President Uhuru Kenyatta to assent to the Division of Revenue Bill.
The Senators led Speaker Ekwe Ethuro was represented in the suit by lawyer Kioko Kilukumi.
The bone of contention was the decision by the National Assembly to approve the scaled-down Sh210 billion budget as opposed to the whopping Sh258 budget Senate had sanctioned after restructuring the Division of Revenue Bill.
Senators were adamant that they should have the final say on the allocation of money to the County Governments.
Speaker Ethuro had protested that the contentious Bill was not referred back to Parliament for reconsideration even after he wrote to the President on June 7 explaining the unconstitutionality of the actions taken by the National Assembly.
The Senate accused the National Assembly of unlawfully rejecting the restructuring of the Bill and passing it on to President Kenyatta for assent without following the mandatory mediation process.
In its advisory opinion delivered on November 1, the Supreme Court said the Senate has a role to play in passing the Division of Revenue Bill, effectively ending a dispute between Kenya’s two houses of Parliament over the matter.
The court also emphasized the need for both the National Assembly and the Senate to work harmoniously and settle their differences through mediation.