BBI, fuel prices top agenda as House resumes

Tuesday, September 21st, 2021 00:00 |
The latest fuel prices after last week’s review by the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority. Photo/PD/John Ochieng

The National Assembly resumes today after a four-week break with a full in-tray.

Today, the House is likely to adjourn to debate the stormy issue of fuel prices if Speaker Justin Muturi approves a motion sought by Dagoretti North Simba Arati MP.

Arati wants the government to suspend the Value Added Tax Act, in order to stabilise fuel prices that hit a historical high last week.

Over the weekend, Muturi told MPs to stop issuing statements to do with the fuel increment and instead bring necessary amendments before the House for consideration.

“It is disheartening when a boda boda rider cannot operate because of high fuel prices. Let MPs bring this issue in Parliament. Leaders cannot cry together with citizens,” said Muturi.

The Speaker is also expected to give a ruling on whether a raft of constitutional amendment Bills before Parliament will proceed.

Before the recess, a section of MPs sought a ruling on whether the Bills were constitutional following the Court of Appeal declaration that they be subjected to a referendum.

New positions

But even as Muturi makes his ruling, the Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee has drafted a Bill seeking to create new positions of a Prime Minister, two deputies and two deputy presidents.

Committee chairman Jeremiah Kioni said the bill is ready and will be tabled after the House resumes.  

President Uhuru Kenyatta is also expected to make his penultimate State of the National Address to the two Houses during this session.

MPs are also expected to conclude debate on the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) amendment Bill currently in the Third reading.

 President Uhuru had earlier this year made a passionate appeal for Parliament to prioritise the Bill, which is expected to boost the government’s efforts towards achieving universal healthcare.

But even as the House is expected to expedite the consideration of the National Hospital Insurance Fund Bill, 2021 paving the way for its further deliberations in the Senate, the proposed law has attracted a number of amendments.

Key among them is the provisional clauses outlining the manner in which health facilities are accredited or removed from the fund’s accreditation roll.

Already, several MPs have raised issues with the provision for NHIF beneficiaries to select only one facility from which they can benefit from the fund.

Accredited facility

Lawmakers argue it is hard to determine where one will get sick or whether the accredited facility they choose will have adequate facilities to cater for their illness.

Further, the proposal by the Bill for employers, government and private alike, to match their employees’ contribution to the fund does not sit very well with a section of employers, led by the Federation of Kenyan Employers.

Organisation argues that if the Bill is passed as proposed, they may be forced to lay off workers to make ends meet amidst dwindling resources that have characterised their businesses since the Covid-19 outbreak.

Bill has also elicited debate with regard to the contribution by youth and unemployed persons, especially given the proposed revision of the age of dependency to 25.

Besides the NHIF Bill, the House is also expected to consider report of the Committee on Delegated Legislation recommending the annulment of the Campaign Financing Regulations proposed by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

Committee argues that the regulations did not comply with the set legal timelines and that there is no evidence of public participation in drafting the regulations. 

As such, it is expected that IEBC will in lieu of the annulled regulations, resort to drafting amendments to the Elections Act that the House will have to prioritise in view of the short time remaining before the General Election.

Budget Making process for the Financial Year 2022/23 is also expected to kick off in earnest during this session, given that next year is an election year. 

The National Treasury will thus be expected to submit the Budget Policy Statement for the next financial year this year, paving way for the consideration of the Division of Revenue Bill 2022, the County Allocation of Revenue Bill 2022 and the Finance Bill 2022, all which are expected to be approved on or before March 30, 2022.

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