Senators seek State funds for oversight

Wednesday, September 21st, 2022 00:00 | By
Senators seek State funds for oversight
Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale makes a point during the induction session in Naivasha, yesterday. PD/RAPHAEL MUNGE

Senators want the government to set aside funds to enable them to oversight county governments efficiently and effectively.

The Senators claimed that their counterparts in the National Assembly including the Woman Representatives have been unable to play oversight roles over the devolved units.

This even as Senate Speaker Amason Kingi assured that he will liaise with his National Assembly counterpart Moses Wetangula to end the sibling rivalry existing in the bicameral House.

Yesterday during the induction session of the Senators at a Naivasha hotel, the lawmakers said they would push for the establishment of a fund for Senators to offer oversight efficiently.

“Unless we get independence, we are zero. We must pursue our issues and if there is goodwill, it will work in our favour. We are not independent,” said Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo.

She told her colleagues to find experts that will advise them on how to effectively oversight the counties as well as regulate the yet-to-be-established Senate Fund, adding that failure to have the experts, will be a recipe for chaos.

Kakamega Senator Dr Boni Khalwale while contributing to the role of the Senate and its functions said there was need to agree on the modalities of how to manage the funds given there are vast counties while others are heavily populated including Nairobi, Kiambu, Nakuru and Kakamega respectively.

“Do we agree to give equal amount of money to all the elected Senators or how do will this fund be managed? Do we give the Senator for Marsabit more funds to oversight the county because it is so vast or how do we manage the fund especially for counties such as Nairobi or Kakamega which has more than 12 constituencies?” posed Khalwale.

Narrative budget

Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina told the lawmakers that the Commission for Revenue Allocation (CRA) should do a narrative budget instead of one line budget as has been the case, arguing that such a move will help the county governments manage their funds effectively.

Ledama said there is a need for the Senators to consider approving the revenue allocation formula based on narrative budgets as opposed to specific line budgets.

“CRA and the county governments have not been able to determine how some roles should be oversight by the Senate and to perform particular functions. We need to have narrative budgets as opposed to line budgets as is the current situation,” said Ole Kina.

Kitui Senator Enock Wambua charged that the Senate is a creature of the Constitution just like the National Assembly and that the House should be empowered to take its oversight roles effectively but with a kitty just like the National Assembly.

“We will succeed or fail if we don’t remain united and identify areas of cooperation. Should Nairobi get the same amount of money as Lamu? We lost the fund because we failed to agree on the modalities and formula on the fund,” said Wambua noting that should the fund be made available, then the regulation for the use of funds should be very clear.

Affirmative Action

Nominated Senator Peris Tobiko questioned that nothing stops the Senator from having their own kitty and manage it properly just like their Woman Rep counterparts fought and got the Affirmative Action kitty.

“If the Woman Reps managed to secure affirmative action fund, there must be a way Senators can also do the same and get their own kitty,”she said.

Kisumu Senator Prof Tom Ojienda, however, advised his colleagues that they stand to gain if they pursue the Supreme Court case, adding that it would create a level playing field.

“We stand to gain more if we pursue the Supreme Court case. I am ready to join the legal team even on pro-bono basis. Let us have equity; if the chair is from National Assembly, we should have the deputy from the Senate,” said Ojienda.

Nominated Senator Catherine Mumma called for a Dispute Resolution Committee to be set up between the two Houses of Parliament, adding that there is a need for an Inter-Parliamentary Liaison Committee to reduce the sibling rivalry between the two houses.

“When the fund is set, we should focus on designing programmes. We need to design this in a manner that gives the Senators a role in oversighting the counties efficiently,” she added.

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