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Parliament has sanctioned the use of Sh368 billion to finance Government operations in the new financial year commencing next month before legislation that permits the spending is passed.

The amount represents one-half of the total net estimates of recurrent and development expenditure to ensure Government operations run smoothly during the financial year that ends on June 30, next year.

Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta moved the Motion for the House to approve the withdrawal from the Consolidated Fund of Sh368,316,172,938.50 to avoid a shut down of Government at the end of the current financial year on June 30.

Uhuru said the funds would be used to pay the salaries of civil servants, finance operational and maintenance expenses and implementation of development projects, pending passage of the Appropriations Bill.

Earlier the ‘budget errors’ returned to haunt the minister after MPs sought to block the Motion, citing breach of the Constitution.

Rangwe MP Martin Ogindo alerted the House that the initial figure sought Sh368,316,172,939 exceeded the amount permitted by the Constitution by 50 cents.

The Constitution has a caveat for such withdrawal preceding an Appropriations Act: “(It should) not exceed in total one-half of the amount included in the estimates of expenditure.”

Metropolitan minister Njeru Githae pleaded with the House saying the computer software could have rounded up the figure to the nearest shilling.

But another glaring error discovery by South Mugirango MP Manson Nyamweya complicated matters. Nyamweya noted the headers indicated the estimates referred to the financial year ending June 30, 2011 instead of 2012.

Delay to submit

In effect, he added, the Motion was inaccurate, adding “how are we going to trust the figures therein?”

Temporary Speaker Ekwe Ethuro said the concerns were weighty and passage of the erroneous Motion would amount to a violation of the Constitution.

He directed Uhuru to move the amended Motion, which was eventually approved by the House.

Transport Minister Amos Kimunya seconded the Motion saying Parliament’s approval of the Motion was crucial to Government operations.

“It is important that we avoid a stalemate such as the impasse in the US between the Senate and the White House which disrupted the markets and affected the economy,” Kimunya said.

Gichugu MP Martha Karua criticised the minister blaming the inconsistencies on his delay to submit the financial estimates to Parliament. “If you had tabled the financial estimates two months prior to the Budget as required by the law parliamentary committees would have had time to rectify the errors,” she said.

Gwasi MP John Mbadi said it was improper to spend before the budget estimates were approved by the House. The minister was also urged to ensure the funds were spent prudently.  “The funds shall be utilised efficiently to finance intended programmes,” Uhuru said.

Stories by David Ochami, Alex Ndegwa and Peter Opiyo

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