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Debate on crucial financial Bill begins

By | March 14th 2012

Parliament began debate on a crucial Bill on the finances of the national and county governments with MPs urging vigilance so that the devolved units are not starved of funds.

As debate on the Public Financial Management Bill got underway, MPs recalled that the majimbo system of Government after independence was killed after regional units were denied resources by central Government.

Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi described the Bill, which provides for the effective management of public finances by the National Government and County Governments, as one that will "either make or break devolution".

Mudavadi reminded the MPs that the early attacks on devolution soon after independence were in the area of public finance.

"Please look at it very carefully. Any clause that will be seen to be reversing devolution particularly in areas of finance must be removed," said the deputy Prime Minister.

Garsen MP Danson Mungatana warned the House the Bill had "dangerous clauses" through which "Treasury was arrogating itself powers that would suffocate other organs".

Mungatana cited clause 17, which he claimed was designed to deny the counties the constitutional mandatory minimum share of 15 per cent of government revenue.

Debate was interrupted for lack of quorum and it is understood MPs frustrated debate taking place with fewer members in the House to preempt its hasty passage before thorough scrutiny.

Nominated MP Millie Odhiambo initially alerted the Chair of lack of quorum. Later Gwasi MP John Mbadi interrupted debate, citing lack of quorum and the House adjourned prematurely. Earlier, acting Finance Minister Njeru Githae moved the Bill and Mudavadi seconded it.

It was a symbolic gesture to underscore that Treasury and the Ministry of Local Government, which had feuded over the definition of revenue at the drafting stage of the Bill, had healed their differences.

–Story by David Ochami, Steve Mkawale, Peter Opiyo and Alex Ndegwa

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