Members of the National Assembly have been faulted against the move to cripple the operations of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) by slashing its budget allocated in the 2019/20 financial year.
Mr Ndungu Wainaina, the executive director of the International Centre for Policy Conflict (ICPC), in a petition filed in the National Assembly to protest the move, warned that the reduction of the budget is subversion of the sovereignty of the people and supremacy of constitution.
Mr Wainaina also described the move an abuse of office and legislative mandate of the MPs by “abrogating” the constitution to suit their own interests.
“This is parliamentary impunity. Kenya has and enjoys constitution supremacy and not parliamentary supremacy. The act on the SRC is unconstitutional ab initio,” Mr Wainaina says in the petition.
On Wednesday, the National Assembly slashed the Sh545,360,000 allocated to the commission in the 2019/20 financial year by Sh95 million.
The proposal to slash the commission’s budget was moved by South Mugirango MP Silvanus Osoro and supported by his Funyula counterpart Wilberforce Oundo and nominated MP David Sankok.
The reduction, which is likely to ground SRC operations, came as MPs approved the Sh1.8 trillion recurrent and development estimates for the national government.
The commission, chaired by Lyn Mengich, was first allocated Sh645,360, 000 for the next financial year but MPs slashed the amount by Sh125.6 million last week when they passed the second supplementary budget.
It emerged that the commission had used Sh125.6 million without a budget.
Of the amount, the commission spent Sh99.17 million on motor vehicles and other transport equipment, Sh20.4 million refurbishing its offices, Sh2.85 million on domestic, and subsistence and other transportation costs. Other expenditure were Sh2 million operating expenses and office furniture worth Sh1.13 million.
The commission’s attempts to have the MPs regularise the expenditure were fruitless.
Although the commission cited Article 223 of the Constitution to defend the expenditure, the MPs faulted the move.
The Article provides that the government may spend money that has not been appropriated for, on emergencies (drought, floods, insecurity) but must seek post- facto approval from the National Assembly within two months of the expenditure. The MPs wondered what was so urgent that the commission could not wait.
“It is incomprehensible why new commissioners should buy new cars when the former commissioners had vehicles that are available. This is also not a commission that is coming to office for the first time to incur expenses on office refurbishment,” said Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wah, who chairs the National Assembly’s Budget and Appropriation Committee last week.
The SRC is at loggerheads with MPs following its decision to challenge the Sh250,000 monthly housing allowance awarded to them by the court.
The allowance, before taxation, was backdated to October 5, 2018, when High Court Judge Chacha Mwita ruled that all State officers were entitled to a house or a housing allowance provided by the State.
The case had been filed by a deputy governors’ forum, which argued that they needed housing benefits.
MPs are categorised as State officers, but they had not been getting house allowances.