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Parliament should strive to make a difference

President William Ruto's first address during the opening of the 13th Parliament on September 29, 2022. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

In keeping with tradition, President William Ruto addressed the inaugural sitting of the 13th Parliament yesterday. The occasion provided the president an opportunity to outline what his government seeks to achieve. 

Part of Ruto’s commitment was that his government will be fair to all and service delivery will be impartial for despite our political differences, we remain one united country. To ensure the public gets value from his government, the president said the Executive will be receptive to parliamentary oversight.

Parliament takes up its legislative role at a time the country is experiencing an economic meltdown. The resultant high cost of living has made life difficult for many amid the ravages of Covid-19 and the current threat of Ebola finding its way into the country from Uganda.

The president’s admission that the country is in dire financial straits and the promise that his government will put brakes on borrowing to finance recurrent expenditure should guide the deliberations of Parliament.

Already, Ruto has instructed the National Treasury to liaise with ministries to ensure Sh300 billion is culled from their current budget to reduce borrowing. MPs should take cue and check their urge to restore perks and allowances that the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) scrapped recently.

Newly elected MPs took off on a false note when they immediately sought to override the decision by SRC. The 12th parliament was notorious for its appetite for public funds. MPs easily found common ground when pushing for their allowances but fell out during debate on issues that directly impact the lives of common citizens. 

This proclivity for perks earned parliamentarians the unenviable nickname ‘Mpigs’. Such is the tag that the 13th Parliament must make deliberate efforts to move away from. Importantly, the president promised to uphold the principle of separation of powers, which should give legislator the confidence to work without looking over their shoulders.