Capital FM (Nairobi)

11 July 2014

Kenya: MCAs Vow to Reject Cheserem Budget Caps

Nairobi — A showdown is looming between the County Assemblies and the Controller of Budget after the legislators vowed to disregard the recommended budget ceilings by the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA), insisting they will apply their own formula for sharing Sh30.2 billion between the assemblies and county executives.

Busia County Assembly Speaker Bernard Wamalwa and Kiambu County Budget and Appropriations Committee Chairman Fred Mwangi said they had resolved to defy 'the unconstitutional circular' and accused the public finance watchdog bodies of overstepping their mandate.

"What they issued are advisories and not decrees that should be dictated to us," Turkana County Assembly Speaker Geoffrey Kaituko said.

They explained that honouring the circular would lead to operations grinding to a halt at most assemblies by December.

"The salaries of the County Assembly Members alone take more than 50 percent then that is completely crippling the operations of the County Assemblies," Wamalwa explained.

Mwangi added: "As Assemblies, we are obliged by the law and we shall follow the law. We are telling all those commissions that we are not going to be bound by their circulars, because their circulars are not necessary."

Mandera County Assembly Speaker Abdikadir Sheikh said they may move to court to get a legal interpretation on the matter.

"I don't think you (the commissions) have reached the capacity where you can do these things; probably you are being used by other people who are against devolution," Sheikh said.

He added; "But what we are telling you today is that we don't have a problem with your circular. We will not comply with it because it is unconstitutional and we will not go to court over it, because it is you to go to court to challenge if you have a problem."

But Deputy Controller of Budget Stephen Masha cautioned the county assembly speakers that his office will not approve withdrawal of public funds for budgets that are against the law adding that they are concerned by the high cost incurred by the MCAs in foreign travels expenditure.

They were speaking during a consultative meeting between the County Assembly Speakers Forum, County Assemblies Budget Committee Chairpersons and the Controller of Budget and the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA).

Nyeri County Senator Mutahi Kagwe who is a member of the Senate Committee on Finance recommended that the CoB, CRA and the County Assembly Speakers appear before the Senate Committee to try and find a solution to the issues.

Kagwe at the same time said there is a need for foreign trips by the legislature and executive to be regulated following advisories from 15 countries among them Switzerland, Rwanda, Singapore and Brazil who said they are not willing to host Kenyan delegations.

The Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo wrote to all governors and County Assembly Clerks on June 14 and attached the formula by CRA notifying them on the need to comply with the Public Financial Management Framework when compiling the 2014/15 budget to enable her office to approve them in time.

Among the eight conditions set by Odhiambo is that allocation to the county assembly be based on the CRA circular dated April 22 on budget ceilings.

"All County Governments should strictly follow these requirements to avoid inconveniences in budget execution," she said.

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