WAITING ON TREASURY

We're ready for Uhuru bill, 30% pay cut - House speakers

If passed, gives relevant agencies powers to take action as directed by President

In Summary

• By press time, Treasury CS Yatani was yet to present to the National Assembly the bill on the reliefs announced by the President.

• There have been calls to Parliament to hold a special sitting, messages which have escalated with the President having stated the government’s measures.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi and his Senate counterpart Kenneth Lusaka during a presser at Parliament Buildings on March 26.
COVID-19 PRECAUTIONS: National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi and his Senate counterpart Kenneth Lusaka during a presser at Parliament Buildings on March 26.
Image: PSCU

Parliament is ready to receive President Uhuru Kenyatta’s bill spelling measures taken by the government to cushion Kenyans from the adverse economic effects of coronavirus.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi and his Senate counterpart Kenneth Lusaka said the Houses are likely to reconvene next Tuesday.

They also agreed to a 30 per cent pay cut for the next three months, taking the cue from the President who, together with DP William Ruto, ceded 80 per cent of their pay.

 

The speakers said they were waiting for communication from Leaders of Majority Aden Duale (National Assembly) and Kipchumba Murkomen (Senate).

Even so, there is a tentative agreement that the sittings will have to be held on Tuesday considering the urgency of the President’s proposals to save the country’s economy.

In the measures which come into force by April 1, President Kenyatta gave tax holidays to persons earning up to Sh24,000.

He directed that corporate tax be reduced to 25 per cent from 30 per cent and that a Sh10 billion fund be set aside in cash transfers for the elderly.

President Kenyatta also asked the National Treasury to reduce Value Added Tax – charged on basic household commodities – from 16 to 14 per cent.

The President further directed appropriation of Sh1 billion for recruitment of health workers. 

But these have to be captured in a bill which if passed, gives the relevant agencies powers to take action as directed by the head of state.

 

Treasury CS Ukur Yatani gazetted the Value Added Tax (Amendment of the Rate of Tax) Order, 2020, to 14 per cent as directed.

Interior CS Fred Matiang'i also gazetted the invoked Public Order (State Curfew) Order, 2020, for the restriction of movement starting Friday at 7pm.

Treasury, however, was yet to present to the National Assembly the bill fully capturing the reliefs announced by the President.

It is this bill that will inform the agenda of the special sitting – without which the Majority and Minority leaders cannot request the speaker for one.

National Assembly Standing Orders spell that the business for such a sitting has to be specific and shall be the only business.

Muturi told the Star that they had begun work on the instruments on Thursday, deliberations from which the bill would be crafted.

While acknowledging the difficulty of stating the timelines for the talks in the wake of no communication from Treasury, he said they hope the same would be fast-tracked.

“Given the circumstances that we are in, certain processes will be fast-tracked to ensure the benefits the President put are realised sooner other than later,” the speaker said.

Part of the plan is to install measures for getting feedback from members of the public on the President’s proposal once the bill is ready.

“Once the leaders write to any of us, we are obligated to recall the House and gazette a particular sitting,” Muturi said.

Lusaka said senators may reconvene next Tuesday with logistics being put in place for weekly sittings.  

“We will announce further measures taken by individual members and Parliament as an institution on where we can support,” he said in a televised address from Parliament buildings.

“We are working on the logistics and to ensure people cooperate in terms of observing the guidelines spelt out by the Ministry of Health,” the Senate Speaker said.

Senate needs a quorum of 15 members while the National Assembly requires 50 members to transact business.

National Assembly Clerk Michael Sialai earlier told the Star the chambers would be mapped to allow at least representation of the 47 counties being part of the quorum.

Other options would be for members to go to the chamber in turns to avert instances of breach of the one-metre distance recommended by the Health ministry.

Muturi said there is improvement in the facilities that have been set for hand washing and sanitisation purposes compared to when the House adjourned for recess.

There have been calls to Parliament to hold a special sitting. These messages have escalated since the President stated the government’s measures.

Already, the Central Bank of Kenya revised its base lending rate to release Sh35 billion for banks to loan SMEs.

Edited by R.Wamochie