Work or quit, majority leader tells senators at Coast retreat
Senators have been warned to take their legislative agenda seriously lest they be rendered irrelevant, even as they vowed to end sibling rivalry between their House and the National Assembly on matters legislation, especially the origin of bills.
In addition, the lawmakers said they will introduce several bills affecting counties that were not enacted in the last Parliament. Senate Majority Leader Aaron Cheruiyot (Kericho), while reading the riot act to them, noted that 90 per cent of members do not contribute or participate in reports by committees in the House.
Speaking yesterday at an induction retreat in Mombasa, Cheruiyot urged his colleagues to have key deliverables at various committees and on the floor of the House.
He regretted that many senators do not attend House sessions and, if they do, they leave by 4pm. “It paints a very bad picture that by 4pm, the House is almost empty. Let us make attendance of the House very important. We will withdraw your membership for other lighter duties if you do not show up and if you don’t participate in committees or in the House. The whip is under strong instructions to de-whip any inactive member”, he said.
He went on: “It is sad that 90 per cent of the membership doesn’t speak when a report of a committee is brought to the floor of the House.”
Cheruiyot revealed that plans are underway to allow all bills to originate from the Senate, a move that will require the dedication of all members.
He warned committee members that they risk losing their membership if their impact will not be felt, calling for active representation. “If you are appointed as a member of a committee, you should participate actively. You also need to familiarise yourselves with serious matters. If your presence is not felt, then you risk being removed from that committee,” he said.
Cheruiyot told his colleagues that it was now time to work, adding that Kenyans’ taxes should be put to prudent use by the lawmakers. “A substantial amount of money is needed to take care of a single senator for five years. The people we represent must get value for money. We must put to prudent use the money we get”, he said.
He further charged that of the three roles of a senator — representation, oversight and legislation — representation counts a lot in one’s re-election.
On the sibling rivalry with the National Assembly, Cheruiyot said: “We have agreed (with them) on many issues. We have given our views to our Speaker, who will table the same before his colleagues in the National Assembly for concurrence”.
Senate Deputy Speaker Kithuri Murungi regretted that about 23 bills from the previous Senate stalled in the House, and called for speedy adoption for passage after review. “We request you, senators, to reconsider them; those that don’t have sponsors, we can adopt them. Let’s see how we can deliberate and pass them for the benefit of the people,” said Murungi.
He emphasised the need to prioritise intervention within counties that will look at long-term problems such as drought.
“Interventions that need to be done are domiciled in the counties; we need to liaise with our people in the counties to get lasting solutions,”noted Murungi.
Senate Clerk Jeremiah Nyegenye said that the retreat is meant to equip legislators with the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively discharge their duties.
“You will be taken through legislative matters, including Standing Orders, law making process, motions, statements and petitions,” said the clerk.
Unlock Sh38 billion
Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Shariff, while welcoming the senators to his county, urged them to look into the County Additional Allocation Bill which, if passed, will unlock Sh38 billion to counties. The Bill was passed by the Senate in the last session but has since been delayed at the National Assembly.
“There was also a Bill that was passed by the Senate on Conditional Grants and Equalization funds.
“We want you to fast-track it. An issue affecting Mombasa County affects all other counties,” said Sharif.
He added that the Senate should legislate on how the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) needs to engage with counties. “It is important; KRA needs to realise we are providing services to citizens. Legislation should be passed that Pay As You Earn (PAYE) be deducted from source”, he said.