NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 23 – Parliament resumes normal sittings Tuesday after taking a month-long break for the festive season, with debate on the 2017/2018 National Budget set to take center stage.
Members of the National Assembly and Senators will be trying to beat the March constitutional deadline as they convene for the Fourth and final session of the Eleventh Parliament before it dissolves ahead of the August 8 elections.
The two Houses are also expected to pass the Bill that will ensure the country meets the two-thirds gender provision.
Majority Whip Katoo ole Metito and Minority Leader Francis Nyenze hope to prioritize the scrutiny and approval of the 2017-18 budget estimates amid concerns about quorum during sessions.
The Elections Act requires political parties to finish their nominations 60 days to the General Election.
They backed House Speaker Justin Muturi’s warning of a possible financial crisis as Parliament will possibly adjourn sittings two months before the elections.
The National Treasury plans to have National Budget read early to ensure the 2017/2018 Budget is appropriated in good time for smooth operations of the budget before and after the 2017 General Election set for August 8.
MPs last month held a series of meetings with Cabinet Secretaries, independent and constitutional office holders in order to get their input on proposed budget ceilings capped on the respective recurrent and development expenditure estimates.
The Budget and Appropriations Committee slashed money allocated to counties by Sh8.1 billion, setting aside a recommendation by the National Treasury to give the devolved units more money.
The Council of Governors had requested for more resources to the devolved units, where they insisted that they are being underfunded by the Treasury.
MPs during a Special Sitting held in December, gave Sh291 billion in the Budget Policy Statement prepared by the Budget and Appropriations Committee and approved by the National Assembly.
In the 2017/18 Budget Policy Statement, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich had proposed that the 47 counties share Sh299.1 billion up from Sh280.3 billion the previous year, an increase of 6.7 percent.
The Commission for Revenue Allocation (CRA) had proposed that devolved units be allocated sharable revenue of Sh331.6 billion, an 18.3 percent growth from the 2016-17 allocation.
The Treasury had reduced the CRA proposal down to Sh299.1 billion with a justification that allocation to devolved units should only increase by the inflation rate of 6 percent.
The Treasury says inflation at the National Government increased by 13 percent, which was the revenue increase.