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CAUTIONARY GREENLIGHT

MPs approve Yatani's additional Sh18.4bn request, flag irregularities

Concerns raised over timing of request, lack of information on how the same would be funded

In Summary

•MPs lament secrecy of allocations to Kenya Defence Forces

•Also of concern is provisions for operations and maintenance at expense of urgent needs. 

MPs approved Sh1.8 billion for the Nairobi Commuter Railway. /FILE
MPs approved Sh1.8 billion for the Nairobi Commuter Railway. /FILE

MPs on Tuesday approved the Treasury’s request for additional Sh18.3 billion to fund the 2019-20 financial year budget.

The lawmakers gave Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani the okay to increase the recurrent spending by Sh12.3 billion and development by Sh6.14 billion.

However, they were concerned with the Treasury’s failure to provide information on how the additional expenditure will be financed.

 

The Budget and Appropriations Committee in the report adopted by the House warned that it would mean the financing would be accrued from debt.

“The increment in the 2019-20 budget is a concern given the significant underperformance of projected revenues on account of the Covid-19 pandemic,” they said.

The committee held that it would be better if expenditures were rationalised and only priority projects – more so on Covid-19 interventions - given additional resources.

The lawmakers regretted that non-priority expenditure relating to operations and maintenance are still being prioritised despite the loss in revenue.

The committee also raised concerns over the Treasury’s failure to provide proof of payment for expenditures it wanted the House to approve.

The Treasury implied that the Supplementary III estimates contained items for which money has already been spent.

“Failure to provide supporting documents makes it difficult to ascertain when the first withdrawal was done. This House had resolved that all expenses incurred under Article 223 be accompanied by proof of payment,” the committee said.

 

MPs also complained that new items were introduced in the additional budget contrary to the law and that no impact analysis was provided.

They also decried that it would be difficult to evaluate whether the National Government borrowing will be used solely for development and not recurrent expenditure.

For recurrent spending, MPs approved Sh300 million for State House, Sh300 million for the Interior ministry headquarters and Sh1.9 billion for Defence.

MPs also approved additional Sh9.8 billion for the Health ministry, which includes Sh5.8 billion disbursed to counties for Covid-19 emergency response.

About Sh3.4 billion was approved to cater for payment of emergency allowances and benefits for frontline health workers in national and county governments.

Another Sh1.5 billion has been approved for referral hospitals and Sh500 million to Kemri for research and development.

MPs have also approved the reallocation of Sh1.8 billion from marine to rail transport to cater for the Nairobi Commuter Rail – now operating trains to Laikipia.

The Judiciary got Sh324 million to cater for shortfall in salaries while Sh1.5 billion is for the Interior ministry to settle Safaricom’s CCTV installation debt.

Lawmakers also approved Sh1.16 billion for settling debts accrued in works at the Suswa-Loiyangalani high-voltage power line.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s affordable housing agenda got a boost of Sh2.4 billion to construct houses.

The committee further raised concerns with the Treasury’s presentation of extra budget requests days to the close of financial year.

Eldama Ravine's Moses Lessonet, who is the committee vice chair, said: “It is next to bad manners to present supplementary estimates close to June 30.”

Minority leader John Mbadi said they approved the budget “to avoid a situation of excess votes in financial statements at the end of the year.”

He raised issues with the extra Sh1.9 billion to KDF, citing discomfort with the secrecy of the request.

“This is an area that proved difficult for the committee to dig deep into because of the secrecy and sensitivity with which our security organs are treated. We told the Defence committee to go and find what this budget was meant for.”

Nyatike MP Tom Odege said: “We are budgeting money to KMTC for quarantine when we should open our medical colleges to training and help us confront this issue of Covid-19.”

On his part, Kajiado South MP Katoo Metito, the Defence and Foreign Affairs committee chair, said the Defence ministry has lost Sh6.8 billion in the supplementary one and two.

"Therefore this is a big loss," he added.

Edited by EKibii