Yatani opposes senators’ bid to empower MCAs

Friday, June 18th, 2021 00:00 |
Treasury Cabinet secretary Ukur Yattani. Photo/File

National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani has opposed a push by Senators to amend the law to give county assemblies financial autonomy to enable them discharge their mandate effectively.

Senate Finance and Budget Committee is proposing an amendment to the Public Finance Management Act, 2012 to give the ward representatives financial independence to help discharge their mandate as well as respect for separation of powers.

The committee chaired by Kirinyaga Senator Charles Kibiru argues that MCAs are not effectively over-sighting the county governments because they depend on the executive for money.

Appearing before the committee on Wednesday, Yatani objected to the proposal to amend the PFM Act saying it will be infringing on the concept of devolution.

Yatani said just like the parliament that gets its funds from the national treasury, county assemblies should get their share of county treasuries.

“County Assemblies are equivalent of the national assembly or parliament. If we want to make it different that they get allocation differently, it is going to be a problem,” he told senators during a virtual meeting.

Exchequer release

However, Migori Senator Ochillo Ayacko termed the CS’s objections as unrealistic citing a  case in Bungoma, where executive of Bungoma and other executives receive the little disbursements or exchequer release but do not share with the county assemblies their share of that disbursement.

Ayacko, the assemblies rely on the ‘good will’ of the executive to release the cash, a situation that has grounded a halt, operations of most assemblies that are at loggerheads with the executive.

“So our sisters in the assemblies are not able to do what they ate able to do. I hope the CS and the national treasury will be supportive of this aspect of financial autonomy at the county assembly,” Ayacko, who is also the vice-chairman of the committee said.

But the CS, instead, proposed that the county assemblies should come up with their own laws to compel timely release of their funds, as captured in their budgets, by the executives.

“The smarter way of doing is just to ensure that disbursement to the county assemblies, the executives give them priority. If laws can be made at that stage to enforce it, it could be a better year,” he said.

Ayacko clarified that the committee was mulling changing the PFM Act to place statutory obligations of releasing funds on the assemblies accounting officer at county executive.

The officer, the senator added, should ensure simultaneous release of cash of the two arms, the moment the funds hit county treasury accounts.

“I agree that if the executive is trying to micromanage assembly, that is wrong.

If there is any amendment to ensure that the executive, at that level, releases money to the assemblies, then that is good,” Yatani said.

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