MPs quash senators’ push for oversight fund

Wednesday March 18 2020
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Members of Parliament in a session on November 21, 2018. MPs have slammed the brakes on senators’ push for cash for a county monitoring kitty. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By DAVID MWERE

The National Assembly has quashed Sh500 million meant for a Senate county oversight kitty, dealing a blow to senators’ quest to monitor the expenditures of regional governments.

In the supplementary budget passed Wednesday, MPs also voted to have county oversight resources disbursed through local offices in the next financial year that starts on July 1, 2019.

The money had been allocated in the current financial year under the Senate Affairs Programme, but a lack of regulations meant that it could not be spent, with only 19 days left before the end of the fiscal year.

Senators have been pushing for the allocation after the National Assembly last year shot down a proposal to establish a Sh2 billion monitoring and evaluation fund.

REVENUE SHARING

Senators say they need the money to undertake county expenditure reviews, among other things.

They also want to track and monitor development activities and audit development projects.

The decision to wipe out the fund comes as the National Assembly and Senate are engaged in a push-and-pull over the formula for sharing funds between the national government and counties.

In the 2019 Division of Revenue Bill, whereas the National Assembly wants counties to get Sh316 billion, the Senate proposes Sh326 billion. A compromise is being negotiated by a special committee.

This is not the first time MPs are slamming brakes on senators’ push for cash for a county monitoring kitty.

Last year they shot down the Public Finance (Senate Monitoring and Evaluation) Regulations 2018 that sought to establish the fund.

GROWTH FUNDS

Had the MPs approved the regulations, senators would have become the third set of lawmakers to control allocations from the national government after the 290 MPs and 47 county woman representatives.

The Constitution provides for only two levels — the national and county governments — but the 290 MPs allocated themselves the National Government-Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF), with each controlling Sh100 million.

The woman representatives have the National Government Affirmative Action Fund and each controls Sh7 million allocated to each constituency in their respective counties.

The Nairobi woman representative, for instance, directly manages Sh119 million for the 17 constituencies in the city, while Lamu and Isiolo representatives each control Sh14 million for the two constituencies in each of the two counties.