13 December 2012

Kenya: Marende Warns Over Delayed Budget Statement

The Speaker of the National Assembly Kenneth Marende is now cautioning the Executive against the continued delay in presenting the policy statement for next year's budget which is a breach of constitutional and statutory requirements.

Expressing concern over the continued absence of MPs in the House to conduct business, Marende directed the Cabinet to expedite the submission of the estimates to Parliament at least before January 4 next year, to enable MPs constructively scrutinise the estimates.

"I am not certain that after January 4 next year, this Parliament will continue to transact business. Be careful on what business you can do," Marende warned.

"I see danger myself, and urge the minister to see that danger," he added.

He said after the January 4, it will be exceedingly difficult to conduct business in Parliament owing to the likely change of the political landscape. The life of the Tenth Parliament comes to an end on January 14.

He pointed out that the number of MPs in the House has been oscillating between two MPs to 31, at any given time since Parliament resumed from recess two weeks ago.

The quorum for Parliament as per the Standing Orders is 30 MPs.

"It is likely that going into next week, we're unlikely to see more than 10 MPs in the House," said Marende.

Deputy Leader of Government Business Amos Kimunya said that Parliament could sit until January 14 to allow government time to prepare the estimates.

Kimunya also said the House might have to hold extended sittings to ensure a smooth financial handover to the next government.

The matter was raised by Maragua MP Elias Mbau who asked why there was a delay in the tabling of Supplementary Budget Estimates and the Budget Policy Statement for the 2013-2014 financial year.

The Budget Committee Chairman said government operations may be forced to grind to a halt next year if Parliament fails to approve the money bills.

The Constitution under the Public Finance Management Chapter requires that the government table the Budget Policy Statement preceding a financial year by February 15 of every year.

Once tabled, the estimates are forwarded to various parliamentary departmental committees which have 14 days to scrutinise estimates of the various ministries before compiling reports for discussion in Parliament.

Turkana Central MP Ekwe Ethuro expressed fears that the devolved governments may fail to kick off citing a delay in the passage of the Division of Revenue Bill and the County Allocation of Revenue Bill.

The Bills are crucial in determining division of revenue raised by the national government among devolved units especially after Parliament endorsed the Commission of Revenue Allocation Report on the formula of sharing revenue from the national kitty.

Kimunya said the drafting of bills is at an advanced stage and they will be brought to Parliament in the course of the week.

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