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Senators, MPs to face off over retirement Bill

By Roselyn Obala and Michael Chepkwony | Published Thu, May 17th 2018 at 00:00, Updated May 17th 2018 at 00:02 GMT +3
Money in a jar. The National Assembly has told Senate to stick to its function as stipulated in the Constitution. [Courtesy]

Two Houses of Parliament are headed for a clash over the power to legislate laws with financial implications.

At the centre of the dispute between the National Assembly and Senate is a Bill detailing retirement perks for top State officials such as former prime ministers and former vice presidents.

The National Assembly insists the Retirement Benefits (Deputy President and Designated State Officers) Amendment Bill 2018 is a money Bill and cannot originate from the Senate.

Other bills the Senate is considering but which the National Assembly is opposed to are the County Wards Development Equalisation Fund, the County Governments’ Amendment Bill, County Government Retirement Scheme Bill and The Office County Attorney Bill.

The National Assembly has told Senate to stick to its function as stipulated in Article 96 of the Constitution and Standing Orders, and stop handling money bills.

Sources also disclosed National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi wrote to his Senate counterpart Ken Lusaka expressing concerns that the controversial Retirement Benefits (Deputy President and Designated State Officers) Amendment Bill, sponsored by Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina, is a money Bill.

Impending drift

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But Mr Lusaka has downplayed any impending rift, saying the leaders of both Houses would soon retreat to iron out any grey areas that could cause tension among legislators.

“All Bills concern counties. We will seek concurrence from the National Assembly and if we disagree, the matter goes for mediation. There, the matter will be sorted out,” said Lusaka.

He did not give any timelines for the retreat.

But even as he downplayed the issues, MPs are adamant that lines must be drawn.

Leader of Majority Aden Duale (Garissa Township) made reference to the Constitution and Standing Orders on how bills are transacted in both houses.

“The speaker will make a communication on the floor once he gets communication from his counterpart in the Senate. Money bills are transacted by the National Assembly not the Senate. The law is very clear,” said Mr Duale, backing his argument with articles 122, 109 and 103 of the Constitution and Standing Orders 114.

Overstep mandate

National Assembly Leader of Minority John Mbadi (Suba South) supported Mr Muturi’s move, cautioning Senate not to overstep its mandate by debating money bills.

Recently, the Narok senator presented a draft Bill seeking to alter the powers of the President in changing benefits for designated officers.

According to Mr Kina, any changes to the packages of the beneficiaries should be executed through a petition to be approved by the two houses rather than being the sole decision of the Executive.

In response, Muturi wrote to Lusaka asking him not to allow changes to the Retirement Benefits Act.

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