Parliament resumes today to full in-tray for legislators
Lawmakers are today set to resume House sittings after their two-month break to debate and consider various pieces of legislation that have far-reaching ramifications.
Among the top priorities, MPs will consider including the Budget Policy Statement (BPS) which will set the priorities for annual financial and the supplementary estimates that seek to reduce borrowing by Sh68 billion.
Leader of Majority of National Assembly Kimani Ichungwa yesterday said the National Assembly is ready to also consider any urgent matters that will come from the Executive.
He added that apart from BPS, the house will also consider debt management and the miscellaneous statute bill.
“As a House, we are going to give priority to the consideration of BPS, debt management strategy, miscellaneous statute bill, and any other urgent matter coming from the executive,” said Ichung’wa.
The supplementary estimates, the first under the Kenya Kwanza Government, are currently under consideration by various departmental committees. The committees are expected to submit their reports in two weeks.
The BPS on the other hand is a government document prepared by the National Treasury, setting priorities and policy goals that will guide the national and county governments in preparing their budgets for the following financial year and over the medium term.
The PFM Act provides that the National Treasury submits BPS to the Parliament no later than February 15 every financial year, for consideration and approval.
It means that the 2023 BPS must be submitted to the House by February 15, 2023, to start the budget-making process for the 2023/24 financial years.
The consideration of the BPS comes at a time when the National Treasury had just received public views on President William Ruto’s first Budget, which has been set at Sh3.64 trillion.
Ruto has already announced austerity plans in his efforts to create jobs for Kenyans. During this session, the House will also debate the proposal to establish the office of the Official Leader of the Opposition.
Kenya Kwanza with support from the Wiper Party crafted a bill seeking to create the office of the official opposition leader.
The draft bill states that the Leader of Official Opposition shall be the candidate nominated by a political party or coalition political party or coalition of political parties which secures the second greatest number of votes in any concluded presidential election and whose political party or coalitions receive at least 25 per cent of all the members of the National Assembly, secures the second greatest number of votes in any concluded presidential election or the person who secures the second greatest number of votes in an election.
Other key legislative proposals expected before the House include a bill to entrench NGCDF and national government affirmative fund in the constitution and the finance bill that will spell out Kenya Kwanza’s taxation policy. Already Ichung’wa has written to the National Treasury CS Njuguna Ndung’u requesting information on the list of individuals and firms who have benefitted from tax waivers.
In his request, Ichung’wa narrowed his quest to start from January 2018 to date pointing out that some key State officials from the previous administration manipulated the law to grant tax waivers to their families.
“Everybody is obligated to pay taxes and no State officer has the power to waive taxes for the families,” he stated.
The lawmakers are also supposed to begin the process of recruiting new commissioners of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) after the term of chairperson Wafula Chebukati and two other commissioners came to an end.
In addition, they are also supposed to consider the ongoing drought in the country that has affected 10 counties including Isiolo, Mandera, Samburu, Tharaka Nithi, Turkana, Wajir, Laikipia, Tana River and Marsabit.
Further, they are also expected to consider the government’s decision to lift the 10-year-old ban on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) to pave the way for the planting of technologically engineered crops has been seen by many stakeholders as one way or averting the perennial food shortages.