, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 29 – National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich today defended the government over its ability to raise Sh5 billion in emergency funds for the El Nino rains but failed to pay teachers Sh17 billion as awarded by the court in the pay hike dispute.
During an appearance before the National Assembly Public Accounts Committee chaired by Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo, Rotich said it was unfair for the government to be accused of turning a ‘blind eye’ to the teachers’ demands yet it had out rightly stated that it did not have the monies to effect the 50-60 percent pay rise as directed by the court.
He insisted the monies required to cover the emergencies arising from the El Nino rains were less than what had been demanded by the teachers and more so, the government has sought assistance from development partners who would cover for the deficit.
Rotich was responding to a question by Kitutu Masaba MP Timothy Bosire who had accused the government of defying the rule of law by failing to pay its workers (teachers).
“The government’s response on emerging issues depends on the magnitude of monetary figures required. The scope of budget reorganization to respond to El Nino was tight and we also approached for the donor community’s support through additional funding as soon as disasters occur,” said Rotich.
Rotich who was accompanied by Treasury PS Kamau Thugge also stated that the Treasury had urged the Ministry of Roads and Public Works to realign its budget to ensure projects they are undertaking in counties that are El Nino prone are not affected.
He maintained the government position that meeting the teachers increased salary demands were impossible as the economy would be adversely affected and the already soaring wage Bill would increase further.
His response on the teachers’ issues did not however satisfy the committee members who accused the government of fighting teachers.
Suba MP John Mbadi faulted the Cabinet Secretary over the government’s inability to pay teachers saying the salary demands by teachers could easily be implemented through a Supplementary Budget which he said they were ready to implement if brought before the House.
“I know if the government asks Treasury to get Sh20 billion by tomorrow, the money will be found. It is obvious, this has always been done through Supplementary Budgets,” said Mbadi.
He further reminded the CS of the case in May this year when the Office of the President’s budgetary allocation was raised from Sh4 billion to Sh8.5 billion through a Supplementary Budget process that he said did not constrain the country’s budget.
He also defended the Ministry against allegations by governors that it was intentionally withholding monies and delaying disbursement stating that there may have been delays but the matter has been resolved.
He said already, July monies had been fully disbursed with August in the process of completion while those of September were still being processed.
Last week, the Council of Governors (CoG) petitioned the Senate over the delayed disbursement of monies to the Counties dating back three months.
The governors even threatened to sue the National Treasury for failing to comply with the law and to also seek the court’s indulgence in directing it to cater for the interest and penalties accrued by the counties from the delay.