No pomp as Githae reads Budget
Posted Thursday, June 14 2012 at 17:38
Finance minister Njeru Githae brought the curtains down on President Kibaki’s economic reign when he issued his maiden Budget statement in Parliament Thursday spelling out the tax policies that will guide the country for the next 12 months.
The minister dusted the briefcase and used it to carry a huge red folder with a sheaf of yellow sheets on which his speech had been printed in black.
The precincts of Parliament were turned into a fortress as President Kibaki’s security team took over Parliament buildings.
The security checks were thorough, because apart from a pass-through under a screening machine, the officers carried out rigorous full-body pat-downs to ensure that whoever got into the public and press gallery did not have anything that could be considered a weapon.
There were uneasy moments when the Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim got in between the President and the aide-de-camp, both when entering the House and when leaving, but there was no shoving.
The aide-de-camp is always a step behind the President.
The sting in the pageantry of Budget Day was eliminated when the Constitution directed that the estimates of expenditure ought to be tabled in the House two months to the end of the financial year. But Mr Githae and President Kibaki, perhaps hangover from the past, decided that they still needed the splendour.
Mr Githae brought the briefcase, while President Kibaki, attending the proceedings as the MP for Othaya, had the red carpet laid out for him and he also sat on the Chair of State –which he uses whenever he’s in Parliament as the Head of State.
Speaker Kenneth Marende and National Assembly Clerk Patrick Gichohi had to give in to the Executive’s appetite for pomp, with an impromptu decision to make tea and snacks for the MPs to partake. Presidential aspirant James ole Kiyiapi was also in the House to listen to the budget.
John Mbadi (Gwassi) and Martin Ogindo (Rangwe) threatened to rain on Mr Githae’s parade, when they made unsuccessful attempts to stop the minister from reading the Budget.
“Old habits die hard,” said Mr Mbadi as he questioned the obsolete House rules that still direct that MPs should discuss the budget statement for a minimum of three days.
“This is not a budget speech. Why then should we take three days discussing a mere ministerial statement that spells out policy?” Mr Mbadi posed.
But the Speaker demolished the arguments saying they were in breach of the Standing Orders because the MP was anticipating debate.
Mr Githae then went ahead with his statement. But unlike Mr Kenyatta who took numerous sips of water in between the delivery of his statement, with his assistant Oburu Oginga filling it up, Mr Githae took very few sips that by the time he was done, the glass was three-quarters full.
And he had to make do with the glass of water being laid out by a Parliamentary orderly.
John Mututho (Naivasha) also had his moment of fame when Mr Githae said that he had allocated Sh1 billion for the National Agency for the Campaign Against Drug Abuse.
In the House, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka sat side by side and the Prime Minister even passed a bottle of water for the VP to quench his thirst.
And when he was done, Mr Githae said “the Treasury could afford another folder” as he handed the red folder with the budget statement to the Clerk of the National Assembly.