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There's urgent need to set up Parliament business committees

By The Standard | Published Thu, September 14th 2017 at 00:00, Updated September 13th 2017 at 21:56 GMT +3
The 12th Parliament in session. Boniface Okendo,Standard

Having dispensed with the official opening of Parliament, the august House is faced with the task of constituting the various committees to oversee the running of its business.

An important event on the House calendar, it is probable that the sailing might not be as smooth as it should be because of the hard-line positions taken by Jubilee Party, the house majority, and National Super Alliance (NASA), the minority in both Senate and the National Assembly.

The four members from Jubilee to sit on the National Assembly’s House Business Committee that schedules House business are already known, but NASA is yet to name its three representatives, and this could take some time.

Remarks attributed to Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang'ula indicate that NASA legislators will not participate in the House’s business, claiming that it is illegally constituted.

Indeed, as an affirmation of the positions already taken, Opposition legislators boycotted the official opening of Parliament on Tuesday.

This bodes ill for the country as Parliament determines the way forward on a number of issues that directly impact the common man.

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Budgetary allocations, for instance, must be approved by Parliament. This could be adversely affected if the political disharmony among elected leaders is not resolved sooner rather than later.

Ministries and other institutions of Government cannot operate without budgets, and even though Jubilee MPs might feel upbeat about transacting House business without their counterparts from the Opposition, the danger of litigation over some oversight is always present.

The tradition of the House demands that the Public Accounts and Public Investment committees be chaired by individuals from the Opposition benches.

The important role of these committees in demanding accountability cannot be gainsaid. Corruption is a canker that has been eating away at the core of Kenyan society.

It is important, therefore, that the Public Accounts Committee is constituted immediately so it can embark on its watchdog role.

However, if the Opposition legislators do not propose names to the House for approval because of the threatened boycott of Parliament, the committee's work might be impeded. Parliament need not be held to ransom.

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