Chief Justice David Maraga on Tuesday faulted MPs for reduction of the Judiciary budget, noting that the move will have a devastating effect on the court’s performance.
Justice Maraga warned that following the cut, some of the Judiciary’s programmes will be stopped and others scaled down.
“In short, we wish to inform the public that while we shall continue doing our best to deliver justice to Kenyans, judicial services will this year be severely affected as a result of the budget cuts. Please bear with us,” he said.
According to Justice Maraga, the Judiciary had sought a budget of Sh31.2 billion but the Treasury’s Budgetary Policy Statement capped it at Sh17.3 billion. The amount was, however, reduced by Parliament through the Appropriation Act, to Sh14.5 billion.
Justice Maraga said that out of the amount, the development budget from the government is only Sh50 million. “The Sh50 million is expected to cover new and ongoing projects, repairs and maintenance, as well as ICT infrastructure for the courts. We are at a loss over how to use this money,” he said.
He added the situation has been worsened by the Treasury’s failure to grant extension to World Bank funded projects.
“The World Bank is funding 29 projects, and the contract is expiring in December and there seems to be no willingness to extend it,” he said.
He said the Judiciary has followed up the matter with the Treasury without success.
“We have made attempts to reach out to the concerned authorities but we have not been successful,” he said.
He said that the consequence of the drastic cut is that more than 70 court construction projects will, without doubt, stall. During the budget-making process, Mr Maraga said the Judiciary sought a total of Sh31.2 billion for the financial year 2018/19. Sh19.8 billion was to go to recurrent expenses and Sh11.4 billion for development.
REQUIRED SH891 MILLION
The amount comprises government’s funding of Sh8.5 billion and a World Bank loan of Sh2.9 billion. The Judicial Service Commission (JSC), he said, required Sh891 million.
However, the Judiciary was allocated Sh13.3 billion for recurrent expenditure and a development expenditure of Sh4 billion. JSC, he said, was given a ceiling Sh479.6 million.
Justice Maraga was flanked by JSC commissioners, among them Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, vice- chairperson Mercy Deche Mwara, Prof Tom Ojienda, Justice Aggrey Muchelule and Emily Ominde.
He said the imminent expiry of the Judicial Performance Improvement Project (JPIP), a Sh11.5 billion World Bank loan facility through which many of the Judiciary projects have been funded, will worsen the situation.
The project, which started in April 2013, is scheduled to end in December 2018, unless the government agrees with the lender to extend it. He said of the Sh11.5 billion, the total amount disbursed so far is only Sh5.3 billion with a further Sh5.2 billion committed to ongoing works.
“By December, it is estimated that Sh7.2 billion will have been disbursed and Sh4.3 billion unutilised. The repercussions for this are unimaginable, with a flood of incomplete projects across the country,” he said, adding that a 22 month extension period to October 2020 would have allowed the completion of all the pending and planned activities and avoid unnecessary liabilities falling on the government’s budget.
Justice Maraga said operations of more than 50 mobile courts across the country will have to stop, while plans by his office to clear all cases above five years old by December 2018 will be “a mirage”.