NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 21 – Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter declined to appear before the Senate on Tuesday to respond to questions on the increase in fuel prices saying the matter is within the scope of the Ministry of Petroleum.
Keter was invited to appear before a committee of the whole House alongside Petroleum Cabinet Secretary John Munyes who wrote to the Senate asking for a postponement citing foreign travel.
The meeting convened under the auspices of the Energy Committee headed by Nyeri Senator Ephraim Maina was to probe the rise of fuel prices by an average of Sh9.5 from September 14.
The move by the two Cabinet Secretaries to give the meeting a wide berth sparked fury from Senators who accused them of being insensitive and threatened to sponsor censor motions to have them removed from office.
“It is concerning that such a weighty issue like this those responsible are not thoughtful to at least provide solutions on the same,” the Committee Chairperson Maina said.
Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka had on Wednesday, September 15, directed the Energy Committee to issue the summons to the two Cabinet Secretaries after Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei raised a statement seeking to find out why the cost of fuel in the country has been increasing in the recent months.
Senator Chereragei, who expressed his displeasure in the manner in which the two Cabinet Secretaries are handling the matter causally, proposed that they should be fined Sh500,000 before they physically appear before the committee.
“Members of the Cabinet have made it a habit to belittle us and fail to show up when we need answers from them. We should act firm and authoritatively to stem this bad behaviour,” he said.
Senate Minority Leader James Orengo proposed that the House should take drastic action against the two Cabinet Secretaries this as he acknowledged that the 12th Parliament had failed Kenyans.
“We need to cement our authority as Parliament and take radical action,” he said.
Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula said the action by the two ministers was contemptible.
“Where does Keter get the audacity to say that the invitation does not concern his docket. The country is hurting and electricity bills continue to go up and Kenyans need answers,” he said.
Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen said that it was regrettable that despite the technological advancements the House has made, CS Munyes could not have found time to attend to the meeting virtually.
“This is purely a case where the Cabinet Secretary does not care at all. This is an outright case of contempt where he has exhibited that he does not respect this Committee and the Senate as a whole,” he said.
Laikipia Senator John KJinyua said the duo were unfit to hold office and asked the House to expedite the motion to have them kicked out from office.
“This is a joke gone to far and we cannot allow it anymore,” he said.
Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior urged his colleagues not to allow the Senate to reduced into a talking show where only talk dominates yet no substantive action is taken.
“We cannot allow this. We need to act and act now,” he said.
Whereas Parliament has largely been blamed for the rise in the cost of fuel in the country owing to the various legislation that the bicameral House has passed on taxes levied on petroleum products, Narok Senator Ledma Ole Kina asked his colleagues to review some of those laws.
The Committee was on Tuesday afternoon set to table a report on the conduct of the conduct of the two Cabinet Secretaries preceding plenary debate on the way forward.