Treasury CS says political parties fund not feasible

National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung`u during Diamond Trust Bank (DTB) economic and sustainability forum. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

The National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung'u has said the political parties funding is not feasible in the face of a Sh30 billion debt owed to the parties.

Prof Ndung'u, who fielded questions from lawmakers in Parliament yesterday, said the implementation of the funding would affect operations of the national and county governments.

The Treasury CS said his ministry was mulling over amendments to the Political Parties Act to put in place a "sustainable funding model" to the outfits.

He explained that "fiscal constraints" had made it difficult for the government to finance the parties, resulting in a pile-up of debt over the years, citing an order of priority that relegates the said funding further behind the queue.

"While considering allocation to the Political Parties' Fund, the National Treasury is guided by the sharable revenue to county governments, provision of mandatory constitutional requirements such as health services, education, provision for security, safeguarding of national interests, provision for the Equalisation Fund and other priorities on the basis of available resources," Prof Njuguna said, adding that there were currently no allocations to the Political Parties Fund.

He was responding to questions by Mathare MP Anthony Oluoch, who wanted to know why the Treasury was yet to release the cash despite a court order that directed the Treasury to ensure disbursement of the same.

The CS said the government was pursuing a medium strategy that would see funds mobilised to finance, among other things, political parties.

He noted that the Treasury owed Sh30 billion to parties, an amount that has accrued since the 2016/17 Financial Year, when the debt stood at Sh3.5 billion.

Prof Ndung'u also highlighted that the Treasury's allocation to the fund this year stood at at Sh1.475 billion, against the legal share of Sh7 billion, which is 0.3 per cent of the national government's revenue.

President William Ruto's United Democratic Alliance is entitled to the largest share of the cash at Sh557 million, with Raila Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) second with an allocation of Sh308 million. ODM, owed in excess of Sh10 billion, is among the parties worst hit by the funding delays.

The Treasury boss also responded to questions on favouritism in the recruitment of 1,406 Revenue Service Assistants (RSA), following a concern by Turkana South MP John Namoit that two recruits were unfairly dismissed.

Prof Ndung'u said that Moran Ekaran was disqualified for failing to meet fitness requirements while Jacob Etiir disqualified for allegedly forging police clearance certificate.

He defended the paramilitary training of RSA officers saying it was aimed at ensuring optimum fitness as they would be deployed for "field enforcement and intelligence gathering and management" in stemming tax evasion.

The CS also waded into the differences in the dollar exchange rates among commercial banks and foreign exchange bureaus, saying this was controlled by the market.