National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi on Saturday backed calls to allocate Senators funds to oversee county governments.
The Speaker said just like MPs, the Senators played a crucial role and must therefore be adequately funded to enable them carry out their constitutional mandate effectively.
“As chair of the Parliamentary Service Commission, one of our duties is to ensure that legislators are effectively facilitated to do their work. How then do we facilitate Senators to perform their work without money? Is this possible?” he posed.
“They must be allowed to go round their counties and appraise themselves on what is happening within their areas of jurisdiction. The position and role of a Senator cannot be taken lightly. Therefore, as PSC we must and should facilitate senators to do their work just like we do to MPs,” he added.
The Speaker made the remarks during a fundraiser at Eronge Primary Boarding School in Nyamira County.
He was accompanied by the county boss Governor John Nyagarama, Kitutu Chache South MP Richard Onyonka and Borabu MP Ben Momanyi.
In April this year, a National Assembly committee questioned the allocation of Sh336 to senators in the Supplement Budget.
The Liaison Committee argued that they could take away the allocation on the basis that the regulations to govern the use of the funds had not been approved.
Mr Samuel Chepkong’a, the chairman of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, said at the time: “The Parliamentary Service Commission gives money to MPs for oversight. Let us not assuage their egos by giving them another fund, which is not provided for in the law.”
Treasury CS Henry Rotich said the Senate has already submitted the regulations on the use of the funds. But members of the committee said the regulations are yet to be submitted to the National Assembly for scrutiny, meaning the money cannot be used.
Last year, the Senate had been allocated Sh1 billion for the same job but lost it in the fight with the National Assembly over their decision to increase the funds to counties.
Recently, Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi said senators were struggling to carry out their constitutional duties as a result of inadequate funding.
On Friday, Mr Muturi further faulted sections of the civil society for holding Parliament at ransom through litigations, thus preventing it from conducting its functions well.
In a thinly veiled reference to an ongoing court case filed by members of the civil society questioning the legitimacy of the Constituency Development Fund, the Speaker said elected leaders had been robbed of the resources they needed to develop their areas.
"There is no way leaders can perform their work properly when they do not have the requisite resources. We cannot afford to make light of the roles these elected leaders play to propel development forward,” the National Assembly Speaker chided.
The debate was sparked by the Borabu MP Ben Momanyi who said funds allocated to constituencies played a critical role in uplifting development in the grassroots.
"Every right thinking voter must understand the need of working with the elected leaders if their areas are to achieve development goals,” he said.
Nyamira Senator Okong’o Mong’are and Kitutu South MP Richard Onyonka said they will lead their people to support Jubilee in the next General Election.
“It’s true we had been in Cord but we are getting raw food. We want to be where we get well baked food as the community," said Senator Mogeni.
He said he would announce his next political move by September this year.
On his part, Mr Onyonka said the community had grown weary of empty politics and it was time community members were united as a bloc to leverage their bargaining power in the national politics.
His sentiments were backed by Governor Nyagarama who said disunity among the community members was their biggest political undoing.
The leaders appealed to the government to initiate more development projects in the region.
Kitutu Chache South leader Richard Onyonka asked the president to expedite fulfilling the development pledges he made when he toured the region recently.
(Editing by Joel Muinde)