Bills: How lawmakers fared last year - Daily Nation

Bills: How lawmakers fared last year

Sunday January 13 2019

Members of Parliament

Members of Parliament in a past session. Representation and oversight are the other key mandates of lawmakers. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By DAVID MWERE
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The National Assembly enacted 34 bills in 2018, according to information posted on the parliament website.

However, this figure is lower compared to the number of bills passed by Parliament in the last three years.

Among the key legislations enacted last year is the National Youth Service (NYS) Bill, which will transform the scandal-ridden NYS into a State corporation.

The NYS Bill was recently signed into law by President Uhuru Kenyatta, setting the stage for a new-look service with its own internal control systems.

However, the fewer bills could be attributed to the fact that MPs are still undergoing induction, more than a year since the August 2017 General Election to build their legislative capacity.

Representation and oversight are the other key mandates of members of Parliament.

DUTIES

In comparison, about 100 pieces of legislation were enacted by parliament in 2017, while 71 bills were passed in 2016. The number stood at 50 in 2015.

However, it is not a guarantee that bills passed by parliament must be assented into law by the president.

Those he feels do not meet the standards, upon the advice of the Attorney-General, are returned to the House with a memorandum directing on specific areas of consideration.

Other than just passing bills, MPs also have a responsibility to audit the existing ones for areas of amendments or repealing them so as to conform to the Constitution.

A majority of these legislations have been contested in court, with sections nullified because they violate the Constitution.

They include the Security Laws (Amendment) Act and the Election Laws (Amendment) Act.

SERVICES

Of the bills passed in 2018, about 16 were signed into law by President Kenyatta while 17 were forwarded to the Senate for concurrence as per the law.

The bills include Division of Revenue, Supplementary Appropriation, Equalisation Fund Appropriation, Public Trustee (Amendment), Kenya Coast Guard Service and the Finance Bill.

The others are Supplementary Appropriation (No. 2) 2018, Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes, Tax laws (Amendment), Appropriation and the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments No. 3 of 2017).

According to governance and political analyst Barasa Nyukuri, MPs should not just pass laws for the sake of it but ensure the laws improve the implementation of public policies and enhance service delivery.

“We all know that Kenya does not have a shortage of laws because of the efforts the MPs have put in place. But they should ensure that they come up with good laws,” Mr Nyukuri said.

PERFORMANCE

Although it is the responsibility of the executive to ensure that the laws are implemented as passed, the National Assembly has a say - through the Committee on Implementation that checks the status updates of the resolutions of the House, motions, committee reports, questions and bills.

National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale said the House did what it could to ensure the bills passed even as he challenged members to do better.

“Members of Parliament wherever they are should understand that it is their cardinal role to legislate and ensure that the laws they enact are implemented by the executive,” Mr Duale said.

The Building Surveyors Bill and Sacco Societies and Capital Markets (Amendment) Bill were also signed into law.

Conversely, the President did not sign the Health Laws (Amendment) Bill after the Senate raised issues.

The County Governments (Amendments) Bill and the Parliamentary Service Bill are at the committee level.

PENDING

Those awaiting or undergoing second reading include the Public Finance Management (Amendment) Bill, Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, Sacco Societies (Amendment) Bill, Pharmacy and Poisons (Amendment) Bill, Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) (No. 2) Bill and Kenya Accreditation Service Bill.

Bills introduced to the House but referred to the Budget and Appropriations Committee for consideration on financial implication include the County Boundaries Bill, Food Security Bill, Office of the County Printer Bill and the Disaster Risk Management Bill.

During the period, two bills were lost — Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, which sought to shift the election date, and the County Pension Scheme Bill — while the Election Offences (Amendment) Bill lapsed.