, NAIROBI, Kenya Oct 8 – Speaker of National Assembly Justin Muturi and Members of the National Assembly seemed to be reading from different scripts as they gave conflicting statements over the cash crunch that this week almost crippled operations in Parliament.
While Speaker Muturi dismissed reports of delays in paying salaries and allowances as a ‘minor hitch’, MPs in the Budget and Appropriations Committee – which is charged with oversighting budget implementation – felt it was a far more serious matter to warrant almost yanking Treasury PS Kamau Thugge out of a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting to come and explain how Parliament was not given its allocation.
The crisis came to the fore on Monday after it took the intervention of Chief of Staff Joseph Kinyua who was appearing before a committee to have electricity restored in Parliament Buildings.
Budget Committee Chairman Mutava Musyimi and clerks could be seen making phone calls as they went in and out of the committee venue.
Musyimi later announced that the Treasury CS Henry Rotich was out of the country and his deputy who was within the precincts of Parliament was going to appear before the MPs during the lunch hour.
This was however not to be as the PS left the meeting with PAC and walked to the Speaker’s office where he sought permission to appear on another day.
“We have been told he is with the Speaker. He says he is unable to appear before us today because he has a meeting with the delegation from Russia Parliament,” said a member of the committee.
Musyimi subsequently adjourned the meeting saying the National Assembly will on Tuesday get a clear picture of the country’s financial position when Thugge appears before them to explain the cause of the cash crunch which has affected operations within various ministries, Parliament and counties.
The Mbeere South MP said legislators want to know whether the government is facing a cash flow problem or if the country is broke.
Speaker Muturi who is also the chairman of the Parliamentary Service Commission, had earlier assured journalists that the cash crunch has now been resolved adding that MPs and parliamentary staff who had been complaining of a delay in the payment of salaries, allowances and mileage claims were now “smiling to bank.”
“That matter is over. Unfortunately certain things may look juicy, but it is over; just go to the banks and people will tell you that they are now smiling. I think it was a small hitch, that matter about cash has been resolved,” Muturi said.
MPs on Wednesday put Parliament’s leadership on the spot saying they are tired of the terse response whenever they make claims that there’s no money.
The fury of the lawmakers who interrupted parliamentary business was similarly taken out on the Parliamentary Service Commission, which is tasked with handling the pay issues of MPs both in the Senate and National Assembly.
The MPs said they are under pressure from their constituency staff and suppliers, many of whom have not been paid since the beginning of the current financial year on July 1.
In the current financial year, PSC has a budget of Sh28 billion, with nearly one-third of the amount going to cater for the MPs’ perks and salaries.