Why senators back cash fund for MCAs

Tuesday, September 17th, 2019 17:00 |
Photo by Samuel Kariuki

Senators have thrown their weight behind proposed amendments to the law to give Members of County Assemblies (MCAs) budgetary autonomy.

This, they argue, will enable them to effectively ensure governors and county executive committees are held accountable on how they spend public funds.

In their approval, the Senate Finance and Budget Committee says it will propose an amendment to the Public Finance Management Act and table in the House for consent; to give the ward representatives financial independence.

“The committee has been planning to amend the PFM Act to reviews the section of the law to give the assemblies financial autonomy, but now, I think the time is ripe for us to do,” the Committee Chairman Senator Mahamud Mohamud said on Tuesday as his committee met with their counterparts from Kitui and Makueni counties.

He continued: “This is a problem that cuts across all the county assemblies. We are supposed to have challenged the law a long time ago,”

Yesterday, Kitui and Makueni MCAs complained to Mohammed’s committee that their primary work of oversight and legislation have been affected by the ‘dependency syndrome.’

According to the ward representatives, the clamor to control millions of shillings allocated to counties is said to be behind resistance by governors to let County Assemblies manage their own financial account.

Senator Mohammed regretted that the current situation where both the County Executive and the County Assemblies depended on the County Revenue Fund controlled by governors were to blame for weak oversight at the counties.

Ward reps have been pushing for amendments to the law to compel National Treasury to send funds directly to county assemblies.

Currently, the assemblies are unhappy that the current arrangement gives governors more control over funds disbursed to counties and by extending control over county assembly budgets.

“Lack of financial autonomy has really affected our work. Everything has to be signed by the finance executive. We have to disclose to the CEC the intention of the fund,” Kitui County Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committee vice-chairman James Munuve told senators.

On numerous occasions, Munuve said  the executive has turned down their request for funds to oversight the county government.

“You cannot be given money by the same person that you want to oversight. We have been forced to beg the executive to give us the money because finance CEC must sign everything including monies of salaries and allowances,” he said.

The county lawmakers sought the Senate Committee’s invention on numerous challenges they said have hampered effective legislation and oversight of the executives.

The MCAs also implored the Senate to pass legislation to allow them access funds to implement development in their wards.

On his part, Mohamud said the Ward Development Fund Bill has been approved in the Senate is currently lying in the National Assembly.

Nevertheless, the ward reps also  lamented about the executives’ late submission of budget documents, non-adherence to the county fiscal strategy papers and the county integrated development plans (CIDPs).

“Sometimes, you invite executives and sometimes issues summons, but they don’t bother to come. The projections, they send to us are completely unrealistic,” Kitui County Assembly Majority leader Peter Kilonzo said.

On their part, Senators Moses Wetangula (Bungoma), Mutula Kilonzo Jr (Makueni) and Isaac Mwaura (nominated) challenged the MCAs to exploit the powers as provided for in law to curb the problem.

“Most of the challenges the members have raised are self-imposed structural weaknesses that they should not be crying about. If a CEC snubs meeting, for instance, you can censure him or even impeach to instill discipline,” Wetangula noted.

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