Parliament suffers heavy budget slash as cash crunch bites

Tuesday, November 5th, 2019 08:00 |
Parliament in session. Photo/PD/SAMUEL KARIUKI

The National Treasury and the Legislature are on a collision course after the former slashed the Parliamentary Service Commission’s (PSC) budget by almost half, citing revenue shortfalls.

Parliament was allocated Sh42.6 billion in the current financial year, up from Sh36 billion in the previous year.

On learning of the new development, PSC yesterday convened a meeting to discuss the matter under the chairmanship of National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi.

The most hit areas will be foreign travel where the National Treasury has reduced the allocation by a whopping 50 per cent.

In the budget, Sh7.61 billion was set aside for domestic and foreign travel of the 416 lawmakers. The travel vote was an increase of Sh2 billion, from the Sh5.6 billion in the previous financial year.

The Clerk of the National Assembly Michael Sialai declined to comment saying only the Speaker is the only one who can comment on the matter.

He, however, confirmed PSC had been affected by the budget cuts.

“It’s true the commission has been affected by the budget cuts. You can talk to the Speaker who is the commission spokesperson,” he told People Daily.

A commissioner who sought anonymity said MPs will fight against any attempt to reduce its budget.

“We cannot allow any cuts on the budget of the Legislature, which in the first place, is underfunded,” said the commissioner.

The National Treasury is looking for funds to support President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four agenda. To raise the money, acting Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani has slashed Sh131 billion from various State entities.

The PSC has two distinct votes, with the National Assembly getting Sh26.79 billion and the PSC, which includes the Senate, getting Sh13.77 billion.

Committee sittings

Treasury has also reduced by 20 per cent the Sh6.8 billion paid to MPs as allowances for being in the plenary as well as attending committee meetings.

A committee chair earns Sh15,000 when presiding over a sitting, vice chair Sh12,000 and members Sh8,000 before tax.

Other areas set to suffer at least 20 per cent budget reduction is the office of the National Assembly Speaker which has a budget of Sh172 million in domestic and foreign travel and hospitality, and the office of the Senate Speaker which has a budget of Sh148 million for travel.

Other areas to be affected are the purchase of vehicles and furniture, whose budget of Sh365 million will be reduced by 30 per cent.

However, allocations for the compensation for parliamentary employees will not be affected.

Other areas to be affected include the Sh3.1 billion for physical facilities and infrastructure development.

Currently, Parliament is constructing a Sh5.8 billion multi-storey office complex for the 416 members of the National Assembly and senators.

The project that is 65 per cent complete includes office space for parliamentary committee meetings and 400 parking spaces for MPs’ and parliamentary staff vehicles.

The construction of the Sh100 million tunnel to link the main Parliament buildings, county hall, Continental House - the current office building for MPs - and the new complex is also under way.

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