Parliament must give priority to urgent Bills

Thursday February 11 2016

By EDITORIAL
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Parliament resumed sittings Wednesday, after a long Christmas vacation, with a pile of assignments that require expeditious execution.

Top on the list is examining the budget proposals and concluding it by April, two months before the end of the financial year in June, as provided for in the Constitution.

Unlike in the past, this process should be smoother this time round following proposals by the National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich to have the budget proposals discussed at joint forums with the respective committees of the National Assembly and the Senate.

A more critical task is to conclude the various laws pertinent to the implementation of the Constitution.

Ideally, all the laws that anchor the Constitution should have been concluded last year, five years after its promulgation. But that was not possible because of sheer inertia by the respective agencies. Ultimately, that has created a constitutional lacuna.

PRIORITISE

Notably, the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution that was shepherding the process had to fold up in December when its five-year term ended and there was no legal structure to anchor it, and that means that the remaining stages in implementing the Constitution are progressing without a clear coordinating agency.

Parliament must prioritise its agenda and give preference to the most urgent Bills and those with far-reaching ramifications, such as the Elections (Amendment) Bill that will impact on the 2017 polls or the Bill to extend the life of the Transition Authority, which is expiring in March, yet the team has not completed its work that is core to the implementation of devolution.

Given the tasks at hand, the MPs must attend the sessions regularly and thoroughly debate Motions and Bills placed before them.

It is noted that a major problem in the past has been frequent adjournments of parliamentary sittings for lack of quorum or cases of MPs wasting vital time debating trivial matters when major Bills are left pending.