National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi has declined a request to form a select committee to audit the country’s public debt situation on account that the proposal is an overlap of the mandates of other House committees.
The request had been sought by Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, who wanted the Ad hoc committee to investigate and inquire into the borrowing trends of the government in the past 20 years.
“In this regard, the House Business Committee (HBC) is of the view that the matters listed in the proposed notice of motion perfectly fall within the mandate of the committee on Finance and National Planning,” Mr Muturi, who chairs HBC, said.
The Speaker further directed the finance committee to consider the matter proposed by Mr Kuria and other debt-related reports currently before the House.
Mr Kuria wanted the committee, whose membership he proposed at 15, to investigate the processes, terms, and status of the government’s past and current domestic and external debt, current revenue collection, taxation measures and public expenditure.
The effects of the tax burden on the economy, current and future generations were also to be dealt with.
In turn, the committee, whose membership was to expire within 90 days, would be required to make recommendations to the House on possible alternatives, mitigation measures and any other related proposals.
“For a select committee to be set up to inquire into any matter, it would be expected that the matters proposed to be considered either cannot be adequately addressed by the existing Committees, are cross-cutting making it impossible to be considered by a specific committee or are beyond the mandates of the existing committees,” Mr Muturi said.
Under the House Standing Orders, the mandate of the committee currently chaired by Kipkelion East MP Joseph Limo include public finance, monetary policies, public debt, financial institutions (excluding those in the securities exchange), investment and divestiture policies.
The others are pricing policies, banking, insurance, population, revenue policies including taxation, national planning and development.
The Speaker while declining to approve the request, noted that since the commencement of the 12th Parliament, the National Treasury has always submitted statutory reports and statistics on the status of loans contracted or guaranteed by the national government, the national debt management strategies and related reports.
“These matters are still pending before the committee on Finance and National Planning and the Budget and Appropriations Committee.”
Mr Kuria is a member of the budget committee.
The documents tabled in the House so far include reports on all new loans contracted by Government from February 1, 2017 to August 31, 2019.
The House also seized the 2018/19 estimates of revenue, grants and loans of the government for the year ending June 30, 2019, medium term debt management strategy, 2019/20 estimates of revenue grants and loans of the government for the year ending June 30, 2020.
The report of the Auditor–General on the financial statements of government investment and public enterprises (statement of outstanding loans) for the year ended June 30, 2018, 2018 budget review and outlook papers for 2018, 2019 and 2019 and 2018 Budget Policy Statement (BPS) are also in the House.
The committee was also required to review all tax concessions on infrastructure projects awarded to foreign contractors as well as all the insurance premiums repatriated to foreign companies.
With Kenya’s debt burden crossing Sh6 trillion mark, Mr Kuria says that mandarins at the National Treasury set up a chain of self-fulfilling events in order to benefit from the debt market.
Kenya’s deficit started off with using Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) issued to Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) by Treasury as the basis for budgeting knowing very well they will never be achieved.
More crucially the Division of Revenue (a first charge on Consolidated Fund,) is then based on this erroneous base,” Mr Kuria says.