AUSTERITY MEASURES

Yatani cannot slash Judiciary budget, MPs say

They say allocation to Judiciary remains intact until a supplementary budget is tabled

In Summary
  • MPs say only Parliament has the lawful authority to allocate public funds
  • Judiciary should have referred the matter to the National Assembly instead of issuing orders barring cuts
House Speaker Justin Muturi
UNLAWFUL: House Speaker Justin Muturi
Image: FILE

The National Assembly has declared that the budget allocated to the Judiciary still stands as appropriated.

The House censured the National Treasury for issuing a directive proposing drastic budgetary cuts and the Judiciary for issuing an order stopping the government from slashing its funds.

"Until the Appropriations Act 2019 is amended, its contents remain valid and the allocation to the Judiciary is still in force,” House Speaker Justin Muturi stated.

Leader of Majority Aden Duale said National Treasury acting Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani cannot slash the allocation to the Judiciary before he presents a supplementary budget to the House.

He further criticised the Judiciary issuing the order saying it cannot give Treasury powers it does not have.

Homa Bay MP Peter Kaluma explained that the National Treasury cannot reduce the budget of the Judiciary without the approval of the National Assembly.

"Only the National Assembly can reduce Judiciary's budget and it is only us who can make that determination,” he added.

He said the ruling by the court downplays the budgeting authority of the National Assembly. “Parliament does not act in vain and we should be respected. The minister should come with supplementary estimates,” he said.

Duale asked members to deal with the matter only when it comes up before the House saying the powers to slash budgets lie with the National Assembly.

Suba MP John Mbadi said appropriation of funds is an exclusive mandate of the National Assembly. “No other organ has the mandate to appropriate funds. The Cabinet Secretary can only make a request to the House,” he said.

 
 

He said the Judiciary should continue to spend its money until the Appropriations Act 2019 is amended.

Judiciary should exercise restrain and avoid overstepping its mandate. “instead of issuing orders, the Judiciary should have referred the matter to the National Assembly,” he said.

Justice Makau Mutua issued an order stopping Yatani from slashing allocations to the Judiciary after the Law Society of Kenya sued the National Treasury and the Attorney General to protest the budget cuts.

Yatani had last month issued a directive proposing drastic cuts on recurrent and development budget of up to 50 per cent in the Judiciary.

And on October 9, the Judiciary chief registrar issued a memo indicating that all mobile court sessions and service week programmes planned between this month to the end of the year had been suspended until the budget issue is restored. Tribunal sittings were also suspended. 

Judiciary had requested Sh31.2 billion to fund its operations but was only allocated Sh17.3 billion.

Yesterday, the chair of the Budget and Appropriation Committee Kimani Ichung’wa said the budget of the Judiciary stands as it was. “The budget remains intact until a supplementary budget is tabled, considered and approved,” he stated.

He added that there are non-essential expenditure which the Judiciary can survive without. Everybody must be prepared for painful cuts,” he said.