Mercy Mwai @wangumarci
In what may appear as MPs hitting back at the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) for illegitimising their self-awarded allowances, the lawmakers yesterday declined to approve an expenditure of Sh125.6 million by the commission.
The legislators agreed with the proposals by the Budget and Appropriations Committee (BAC) to reject the budget the commission had already spent on various activities.
Article 223 of the Constitution allows State departments to incur expenditure and later have it regularised by Parliament under certain special conditions such as emergencies.
Of the Sh120 million budget that the MPs rejected, Sh99 million was for the purchase of motor vehicles for the new commissioners and other transport equipment, Sh20.4 million was for the refurbishment of buildings, Sh2.85 million for domestic travel and subsistence and other transportation costs, Sh2 million operating expenses and Sh1.13 million for purchase of office furniture and general equipment.
BAC chair Kimani Ichung’wa (Kikuyu) said the decision was arrived at because the expenditure was not an emergency.
He said it made no sense to spend money on new vehicles and refurbish buildings yet the same had been done by the previous commissioners.
He denied claims they are punishing the commission saying the reduction on domestic travel and purchase of office equipment is part of prudent use of funds especially now that the government is struggling to fund next year’s budget.
“The commissioners, who came in last year, purchased new vehicles, yet the commissioners who left had vehicles. It does not make sense,” he said.
The committee also deducted Sh1.6 billion from the department of energy under the power transmission and distribution programme for payment to Lake Turkana Wind Power as a result of penalties that arose out of non–evacuation of available power.
The payment, the committee said, will be done once a special audit is conducted and recommendations tabled in the National Assembly within 90 days.
In addition, the MPs also rejected the withdrawal of Sh1 billion from the civil contingency fund meant to provide humanitarian support to last year’s flood victims.
According to the committee, the Public Accounts Committee should take up the matter and investigate whether the utilisation of resources contravened the purposes of advances from the contingency fund.
Last week, defiant MPs vowed not to refund the money paid as house allowances as demanded by the SRC.
The MPs, who held a Kamukunji (informal meeting) accused the commission of applying double standards in the issue of house allowance where all other State officers were being paid.
The decision came after SRC obtained interim orders stopping the Parliamentary Service Commission from further paying MPs the perks until the case is heard on June 12.
In the suit, the Lyn Mengich-chaired commission accused lawmakers of disregarding constitutional provisions that give it the sole mandate of setting salaries and allowances for State and public officers. Activist Okiya Omtatah has also challenged the MPs allowance in court.