MPs question Cabinet’s ability to meet Budget deadline

By Allan Kisia

NAIROBI, KENYA: MPs have raised concern over the timeliness of this year’s budget-making.

MPs questioned whether the Ministry of Finance was in a position to give Parliament the Budget Estimates for the 2013/2014 financial year before the end of this month.

“We do not have a Cabinet Secretary. I hope by end of next week, the Cabinet will be in place,” said Gwassi MP John Mbadi, urging the Executive to make sure that it quickly delivers the Estimates to Parliament.

Mbadi warned of a crisis if the Ministry failed to provide the Estimates by the end of this month.

Kimilili MP Chris Wamalwa told the Ministry to tell MPs of “historical Budget transactions”. “We want to be told if there is any balance brought forward or if there are any deficits. Estimates alone will not tell us about the past,” he explained.

Mbadi noted that the Finance Secretary will be a stranger in Parliament and thus will not read the Estimates before the House. “The Cabinet Secretary can only appear before a Parliamentary Committee,” he said.

New regulations

Speaking at a Nairobi hotel during an induction workshop for legislators, House Speaker Justin Muturi asked MPs to get used to the new regulations surrounding the Budget process. “Old habits die hard but we have to get used to the new changes,” said Muturi. Bumula MP Boniface Otsula said the new Budgeting process offered fresh challenges to the Executive.

“We want to know when the public will come in the Budget making process because it is a constitutional requirement,” he said.

He expressed fears that time may be inadequate for the public to give their input. “We don’t want people to wait for the Budget just to find out the changes in commodity prices. They should be able to know why that is so,” he explained.

Mr Muturi (pictured) recently pledged to work closely with the Treasury to ensure that the Budget-making process in completed in time.

He has called for cooperation by all stakeholders to ensure that everything is included in the final budget. The Budget-making process should begin latest 60 days before the end of the financial year, when Parliament receives Budget estimates from the Finance Secretary.