Reps fault restrictions on changes to spending plans

MCAs say Treasury Cabinet Secretary’s directive is aimed at usurping their oversight role.

Wednesday March 9 2016

Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma addresses members of Kisumu County Assembly on February 9, 2016. County Assemblies have opposed a directive by the National Treasury restricting them on the changes they can make to governors’ spending plans. PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma addresses members of Kisumu County Assembly on February 9, 2016. County Assemblies have opposed a directive by the National Treasury restricting them on the changes they can make to governors’ spending plans. PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By SILAS APOLLO
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County assemblies have opposed a directive by the National Treasury restricting them on the changes they can make to governors’ spending plans.

The County Assemblies Forum on Tuesday said the order by Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich they can only make one per cent change to the executive expenditure proposals is aimed at usurping their oversight role.

In a directive to county finance executives last week, Mr Rotich also limited allocations to members of county assemblies to at most seven per cent of funds given to devolved units every financial year, in a move the minister said will help reduce excess spending by regional governments.

The MCAs described ceilings in the fiscal strategic papers, which set guidelines on expenditure for each county in every financial year, as unconstitutional, and not anchored anywhere in law.

The forum’s secretary-general, Mr Albert Kochei, said according to the Constitution and the County Government Act, assemblies are supposed to play an oversight role, which includes adjusting spending.

“Nobody has the powers to cap the county assemblies’ percentage of amendments they can make on any budget. The National Treasury advisory is not anchored in law. We totally ignore the ceilings,” Mr Kochei told the Nation.

STRATEGIC PAPERS

According to the Public Finance Management Act, the fiscal strategic papers are supposed to be tabled before the assemblies every February 28.

The assemblies will then be required to debate and approve the spending within 14 days. The recommendations are then sent to the Controller of Budget for scrutiny and subsequent approval.

The papers focus on the past, the present and the future of the budget in the county.

In his letter, Mr Rotich said: “The approved expenditure of a county assembly shall not exceed seven per cent of the total revenue of the county government or twice the personnel emoluments of that assembly, whichever is lower.”

According to Mr Kochei, the executive should only be responsible for giving proposals on spending, which are then approved by county assemblies.
He said the National Treasury directive will give the executive a legislative responsibility.

“We ask all assemblies to go back to the original figures that were passed last year and which are in the current budget to pass the fiscal strategic papers,” said Mr Kochei.

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