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Mzalendo's Weekly Newsletter

Issue no. 37, 15 - 21 June, 2015


News of the Week:
  • MPs have accused the Auditor-General of failing to capture the “misuse” of funds by governors and county assemblies in audit reports. The lawmakers said they had witnessed open embezzlement of public money by governors yet this had not been documented. Mr Edward Ouko was hard-pressed to explain why his reports were not thorough on the misappropriation of billions of shillings allocated to the counties over the past two years. Members of the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee also alleged that audit officers had been compromised by governors and were helping them to swindle taxpayers. Mr Ouko had appeared before the committee to explain the delay in submitting the National Government’s 2014/15 audit report to the National Assembly. The MPs used the meeting at Parliament Buildings in Nairobi to question the auditor’s past reports, saying they were not detailed enough. They said devolution was at risk of failure because of theft of funds in the counties.


     
  • Lawmakers have proposed that former Energy Permanent Secretary Patrick Nyoike, Investment Secretary Esther Koimett and former refinery chief executive John Mruttu (now Taita-Taveta governor), should face the law for entering into an agreement for the transfer of the shares to Essar Energy Overseas Ltd. A report by the National Assembly’s Public Investments Committee on the restructuring of Kenya Petroleum Refinery, identified the three as the main people who should be investigated. The MPs unanimously adopted the report, more than a year after it was tabled in the House in April, 2014. They said the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission should take action against the three who were mentioned as having allegedly misled the government into giving away its pre-emptive rights in the refinery. It noted that transfer of the government’s pre-emptive rights to Essar was mired in secrecy, at a mere Sh180 million down from the initial Sh1.3 billion. During debate, MPs said it was unfortunate that no one had been prosecuted over the running down of the only oil refinery in the country.


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  • Civil society groups are proposing a new Bill that will put the Constituency Development Fund under the control of the National Government. This would mean restricting it to funding National Government projects at the county level. In the proposed new arrangement, members of the National Assembly will also be restricted to performing an oversight role as they will not be involved in the identification and implementation of CDF projects. The lobby groups warned National Assembly members against frustrating efforts to revise the current CDF Act, cautioning that they risked losing out. The proposed Bill seeks to have a framework that retains the CDF as a social fund established in law to support national functions through projects identified by communities at the sub-county level. The idea is to involve communities through projects initiated at the ward levels, with MPs playing the oversight role and county governments providing technical support to the fund. The groups said the fund can be salvaged if MPs allows its revision to conform to the Constitution by February 2016, as required by the court.
 
  • A Senate committee has recommended that 34 county assemblies receive an additional Sh2.5 billion for operations. The Committee on Finance made the recommendation after the County Assemblies Forum (CAF) petitioned the Senate for an extra Sh4.4 billion. CAF argued that the Sh25 billion allocated to them was insufficient to carry out operations, including remunerations. Committee chairman Billow Kerrow, confirmed that following extensive deliberations over the budget ceilings proposed by the Commission for Revenue Allocation (CRA), the affected assemblies were justified to seek additional funds. 

     
  • Deputy President William Ruto has proposed that 95 per cent of the Constituency Development Fund be used to build infrastructure in schools. Speaking at this year’s Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association annual conference, which he officially opened yesterday at the Wild Waters centre in Mombasa, the DP said it was through education that the country will achieve Vision 2030. He said that education was the cornerstone of the country’s economic development and the government’s transformation agenda can only be achieved if the sector gets the necessary impetus. Mr Ruto said the country lacks technology experts, technicians and artisans who can “turn the wheel of economic development".
 
  • The National Assembly’s Finance, Trade and Planning Committee vetted and approved the President’s nominees to head the Central Bank of Kenya. They are Mr. Jairus Mohammed Nyaoga, who was nominated chairman of the CBK, Dr Patrick Ngugi Njoroge, who was nominated as the governor and Mrs Sheila M’Mbijiwe was nominated as the Deputy Governor.
 
  • Senators resolved to join governors and the Opposition in the push to change the Constitution before the next General Election. Whereas the governors are seeking to increase allocation to counties, senators will be campaigning for more powers after their National Assembly counterparts slashed Senate’s budgetary allocation ahead of last week’s Budget. The furious senators said the move by MPs to deny them funds was a ploy to kill devolution by weakening the institutions that watch over the new structure of governance. The Senate’s main responsibility is to safeguard devolution. During a special sitting, senators unanimously agreed that a referendum was the best way to ensure a more empowered Senate and to strengthen devolution. They agreed to work together to ensure a successful referendum and warned that they would not sit back and watch as the Senate is wound up. The special session was called by House Speaker Ekwee Ethuro to give members an opportunity to decide on the next move after being denied the Sh1 billion they wanted to boost their oversight roles. The senators said they would no longer compete with MPs but will pursue constitutional changes to make the Senate the Upper House of Parliament.
     
 
 
Editorial:  Parliamentarians’ supremacy differences over budget are not in public interest


The raging supremacy war between the Senate and the National Assembly over budgetary allocations are unfortunate and against public interest. The creation of the two houses was informed by history and the need to protect devolution. The National Assembly slashed Senate’s Sh1 billion allocation to senators for monitoring and evaluation, Sh800 million from the Judiciary’s budget and Sh200 million from the SRC in the budget for the financial year 2015/16. Senators saw the budgetary cut as a punishment and anti-devolution. Budget making is a shared function in which Parliamentarians should demonstrate great soberness in making decisions affecting the Counties and the National functions respectively. Read more




Quote of the Week

Sentiments by Hon. Farah Maalim during debate in Parliament on non-disbursement of free secondary education funds on March 25, 2008


“The only way we can have as many students in secondary schools as possible is for us to create special boarding schools for the nomadic communities, because that is their catchment area. As a result of the fact that we do to have these schools, enrolment in secondary schools is low, yet you come up with this other criteria. We are now in a situation in which we do not have sufficient teachers for primary schools, numbers of special boarding schools for the children and our secondary schools are thoroughly under-staffed. Consequently, the province is unable to send more than three students to the university every year.” Read Hansard




Lest we Forget!

Sentiments by Hon. Bifwoli Wakoli during debate on The Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill on 4th October, 2007


“Currently, there are 312 such cases under investigation by KACC on matters prior to May, 2003. The President also recommended that because there are many cases which are already in court-- - Currently, there are 38 such cases. For example, a total of 13 cases relate to the collapse of Euro Bank. There are many cases which relate to abuse of office involving Permanent Secretaries, Chief Executives of State corporations and heads of departments, and also cases relating directly to Anglo Leasing. The President also recommended that, that section be deleted because, in effect, it was giving blanket amnesty. The issue of giving blanket amnesty to past offences cannot be dealt with under the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill. It would require a comprehensive legislation which, I hope, whatever Government is elected after general elections, will address it conclusively and finally.” Read Hansard




Newsmaker this week:

Kabondo Kasipul residents are set to witness the second phase of a multi-million shillings street lighting and surveillance project in the constituency. Area MP Sylvance Osele says the project is on course and phase one was completed at a cost of Sh12.5 million last year. The project involves building of high light masts in markets and streets with the intention of the making the area a 24-hour economy. With the project already up and running in Chabera, Kadongo and Ringa, Mr Osele says priority will be given to isolated trading centres far away from major towns. The second phase will start in July in Mikai, Kocholla and Ramba. Osele says traders can now work late into the night without fear of attacks by marauding armed gangs due to enhanced surveillance by local security personnel. Profile



Bills in the Second Reading

THE NATIONAL YOUTH EMPLOYMENT AUTHORITY BILL (NATIONAL ASSEMBLY BILL NO. 08 OF 2015) is sponsored by Hon. Johnson Sakaja




Death penalty to be abolished

The death penalty could be abolished if a Bill proposed by an MP becomes law. The draft Bill, if enacted, would result in the repeal of the death sentence from Kenya’s laws and stem the rising number of death-row prisoners. The proposal seeks to remove death as a punishment from the Penal Code through the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill and the Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) Bill. The Bill, sponsored by Oljororok MP John Waiganjo, is being scrutinized by the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee before it is published and formally introduced in the House. Mr. Waiganjo argues that it is improper to have the death sentence in the law because it violates the Bill of Rights in the Constitution.


Suspended CS trial put off for a month


Suspended Transport Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau got a temporary relief after a court suspended his corruption trial for a month. Senior principal magistrate Lawrence Mogambi agreed to put the trial on hold to allow Chief Justice Willy Mutunga appoint a three judge bench to hear a petition by Mr. Kamau challenging the legality of his prosecution. The magistrate however said that should the bench to be appointed by Dr Mutunga fail to stop the proceedings, he will fix a hearing date for the trial to continue.



Public Participation

The National Assembly is seeking public input in the nomination of Ms. Anne Rwamba Gitau for the position of Secretary to the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC). Members of the public can submit memoranda to the Clerk of the National Assembly P.O.Box 41842 - 00100, or hand-delivered to the office of the Clerk, Main Parliament Buildings or emailed to clerk@parliament.go.ke on or before Friday, 26th June 2015, at 5.00PM

The National Assembly is seeking input on the Engineering Technologists and Technicians Bill. The Bill has already undergone the first reading. A public hearing on the Bill will be held on Monday, 29th June 2015 in the mini-chamber County Hall, Parliament Building from 9.30am to 5.00pm. The public may also send contributions to  
the Clerk of the National Assembly P.O.Box 41842 - 00100, or hand-delivered to the office of the Clerk, Main Parliament Buildings or emailed to clerk@parliament.go.ke on or before Friday, 26th June 2015, at 5.00PM

The Constituency Development Fund  (CDF) is inviting input from the public to inform amendments to the CDF Act 2013 that was declared unconstitutional by the High Court and given one year to conform with the Constitution, specifically devolved system of government. Written memoranda could be submitted to the CDF offices Nairobi Harambee Cooperative Plaza 10th floor, or sent by mail by 30th June 2015 to info@cdf.go.ke and addressed to the Chief Executive Officer. The mailing address is 46682 - 00100, Nairobi. 



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