Money set aside to employ more teachers was used to award the military a pay rise, according to MPs on the Budget Committee.
The move was endorsed by Parliament last Tuesday when MPs passed the Appropriations Bill without scrutinising the details, sparking the strike by teachers that starts on Tuesday morning.
The boycott could paralyse learning in public schools and interfere with preparations for national examinations by Standard Eight and Form Four candidates.
The Treasury may have decided to allocate Sh6.7 billion to the Department of Defence (DoD) to avoid disadvantaging the military following the review of police salaries. (READ: Plan to hire 28,000 teachers hits snag)
The DoD was originally meant to receive Sh44.5 billion but this rose to Sh52 billion in the Appropriations Bill. The increase was captured under a vote titled “Current grants to Government agencies and other levels of Budget reserves”.
But this was not contained in the report of the Budget Committee debated and adopted by Parliament last month.
“The money that has now been taken to pay members of the defence forces was not recommended by the Budget Committee. MPs should have refused to approve that,” said Mr John Mbadi, who is a member of the committee.
The committee had suggested reductions in allocations in the 2011/12 Budget to save about Sh8.5 billion for redistribution to other important areas members felt were not adequately financed.
The savings were made from slashing allocations for budget reserves, financial services for the Treasury, foreign travel and subsistence for ministers, MPs and civil servants, and printing and advertising.
The budget for hospitality in all ministries was reduced by 25 per cent, freeing up Sh1.7 billion, while money for new vehicles was halved and grants to non-governmental organisations halted.
The bulk of the money saved from the reductions, MPs on the Budget Committee told the Nation, had been redirected to the Teachers Service Commission (TSC). The teachers’ employer was given Sh7.4 billion, of which Sh2.4 billion was transferred from the Ministry of Education and Sh5 billion from the savings.
The allocation, said the committee, would have enabled the TSC to regularise terms for the 18,060 teachers on contract and employ 10,000 more.
The chairman of the parliamentary Committee on Education, Research and Technology, Mr David Koech, said on Monday the committee discussed the report with the Treasury, and suggested that the money for employing more teachers should be included in the Supplementary Budget.
“The quality of education has been compromised because of the shortage of teachers in public schools. The government should come out clearly and support the children of the poor by employing more teachers,” said Mr Koech, who is also the MP for Mosop.
The changes to the Budget introduced via the Appropriations Bill also included the controversial increase of funding to the National Assembly by Sh2 billion to enable the Parliamentary Service Commission pay taxes on MPs’ salaries without affecting their current pay.
The move has been met with much criticism since the Treasury emptied the kitty for emergencies to clear tax arrears for MPs.