Provision of adequate funds to realise devolution is a key priority as Finance Minister Njeru Githae reads a ministerial statement on the Budget on Thursday.
And the minister will be under pressure to explain why he reduced the money set aside for counties by Sh18.7 billion.
In the estimates to Parliament, Mr Githae had given a figure of Sh148 billion for devolved functions, yet he had promised MPs, through the Budget Policy Statement, that Sh166.7 billion will be allocated.
Mr Githae will also be expected to give direction on a proposal by the powerful House Budget Committee to use part of the money in the Treasury’s budget to build offices for county governments.
The MPs are targeting Sh1.5 billion that was allocated to the Ministry of Finance under “transfers for constitutional reforms” to build county assemblies.
Failure to provide adequate funds for setting up County Assembly structures will result in county legislatures being unable to execute their mandates immediately after the General Election, according to the Budget Committee, led by Mr Elias Mbau.
This year’s budget comes against a backdrop of suspicion from Parliament that some people in government were out to frustrate the roll-out of devolved units.
The scepticism is fuelled by the legal limbo that has made it impossible for Parliament to approve the County Governments Bill and the Public Financial Management Bill.
These laws will set up the bureaucracy in the counties and guide how the money sent to them will be used.
The two Bills are time-barred as per the constitutional deadlines of February 27, 2012. On Tuesday, MPs voted to extend the deadlines for their enactment to July 27.
The County Government Bill had already been approved, but President Kibaki refused to assent it. The law, the President told MPs, encroached on his mandate by seeking to place the Provincial Administration under the governor’s office.
The Financial Management Bill is at the debate stage. Two others, the Division of Revenue Bill and the County Revenue Allocation Bill, are also on top of the MPs’ priority list.