MPs now slash SRC budget

Salaries and Remuneration Commission chairperson Lyn Mengich. Her commission is embroiled in a struggle with MPs over SRC's refusal to grant the leaders Sh250,000 house allowances. [Standard]
MPs have made good their threat to tame the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC), just days after the agency turned down their Sh250 000 house allowance demand.

The lawmakers voted to deny SRC Sh125.6 million relating to various items contained in the second supplementary budget for the financial year 2018/19.

The money had been allocated for purchase of motor vehicles (Sh99.17 million) and refurbishment of buildings (Sh20.4 million).

The rest relate to domestic travel and subsistence (Sh2.85 million), operating expenses (Sh2 million) and purchase of furniture (Sh1.13 million).

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The cuts were contained in a report of the National Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committee on supplementary estimates tabled in the House last week.

Treasury challenged

MPs voted to deny SRC the money, arguing that the commission had not shown that the expenditure was unforeseen or was an emergency, as specified in Article 223 of the Constitution.

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They, however, approved expenditure that did not meet the emergency criteria in various other Government departments and ministries.

The development comes in the wake of bad blood between the commission and MPs over a decision by the commission to deny the lawmakers the house allowance.

The lawmakers had argued that they were legally entitled to the allowance.

During an informal meeting by MPs last week, they vowed to launch an all-out war against the commission over its stand on the allowance issue.

“Outgoing commissioners had vehicles. We see no reason why the new commissioners wanted to buy new vehicles. It defeats logic,” said committee chairman Kimani Ichung’wa (Kikuyu).

Since the money has been spent, it means the sum will be deducted from the SRC budget for 2019/20. 

Also suffering budget cuts is the State Department for Energy, which lost Sh1.1 billion for a power transmission and distribution programme that makes payments to the Lake Turkana wind power.

Lawmakers, however, voted to allocate Sh50 million to the ministry of interior for policing programmes under the directorate of criminal investigation, Sh300 million to the Devolution ministry for purchase of famine relief food, Sh68 million to the Judiciary for tribunal operations, among others.

During debate on the supplementary budget, Treasury came under fire for tabling two supplementary estimates in the course of a single financial year.

“It is not good practice to have two supplementary estimates within a single year. It is not proper international practice. Let us avoid as much as possible this practice,” said Leader of Majority Aden Duale.

“The practice of submitting two supplementary budgets in a single year has persisted since 2014/2015,” said Mr Ichung’wa.

“The Budget committee is concerned that the practice weakens the fiscal position of the Government and undermines the credibility of the budgeting process, as Government policies are likely to end up being poorly implemented or completely abandoned along the way. These are issues we must discourage,” he added.

In total, Parliament approved Sh80.63 billion in supplementary estimates, comprising Sh79.39 billion (recurrent budget) and Sh1.24 billion (development budget).

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Salaries and Remuneration CommissionMPsKimani Ichung’waLake Turkana