20 December 2012

Kenya: Failure to Pass Laws Starves Counties of Cash - Lawmakers

Nairobi — Parliament's Budget Committee is warning that the county governments will be starved of cash for at least four months if MPs does not pass laws to give them access to public funds.

Committee chairman Elias Mbau warned if the Division of Revenue and the County Allocation of Revenue Bills, which guide sharing of revenue between national and county governments and among counties are not passed by the 10th Parliament before dissolution in January, county governments will not access the money.

The Budget Committee has recommended that the funds estimated to be about Sh200 billion be factored in the 2013-14 budget, which will be read four months after the county governments are created.

Committee Vice Chairman Alfred Sambu said the Treasury had no reason to withhold the money especially since Parliament had approved the revised formula that will determine what the 47 counties get once devolution kicks in.

At the same time, Garsen MP Danson Mungatana said the 11th Parliament should amend the Constitution to allow MPs to have staggered terms to ensure the Executive is kept in check.

"The minister knows that MPs will go away after the term of the 10th Parliament expires. He knows no one will put him in check. He won't present the papers to use," said Mungatana.

The MPs said the Treasury ought to put out a pre-election report showing the money in the public coffers.

"The next government will also be in a financial mess because the leadership might not know what was in the public coffers when they come in."

According to the Public Finance Management Act, the MPs said, the report ought to have been in the House on November 4, that is, 120 days to the election date.

"This is an important document indicating all direct and indirect expenses related to elections. This country will go to the elections without an idea of what was in the government coffers before the elections, and what was supposed to be spent on the elections," said Mbau.

In Kenya, the financial year ends on June 30. Bearing in mind the lengthy process that has to start in February, and considering that there will be no Parliament after January 14, 2013, the MPs want to conclude the budget process before they go home for Christmas.

The House is expected to take a Christmas break on Thursday afternoon.

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