Late tabling of State expenditure estimates lands Ukur Yatani in soup

National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani was on the receiving end after National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi reprimanded him for the late tabling in the House of the government spending estimates.

“For the convenience of this House and the country, I should issue this warning to the National Treasury. It is very wrong for people to wait until the last day to table the estimates,” said Mr Muturi during the House’s special sitting.

“If this is the time the National Treasury is bringing the estimates it speaks volumes about their level of competence.”

Article 221 (1) of the Constitution guides the process.

“At least two months before the end of each financial year, the Cabinet Secretary responsible for finance shall submit to the National Assembly estimates of the revenue and expenditure of the national government for the next financial year to be tabled in the National Assembly,” reads the article.

Read mischief

This means that by April 30 every financial year, the estimates ought to have been tabled in the National Assembly.

Section 37 of the Public Finance Management Act also sets the April 30 deadline for the Cabinet secretary to table the budget estimates and any other Bills — Finance Bill — required to implement the national government budget for approval by the National Assembly.

The estimates include estimates for the expenditure from the Equalization Fund.

The National Assembly is also required to consider the estimates submitted by the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) and the Chief Registrar of Judiciary.

Before the National Assembly considers the estimates of revenue and expenditure, the House committee on Budget and Appropriations is required to discuss and review them and make recommendations to the plenary.

“For all we care we could have adjourned this sitting at 3pm,” said the Speaker.

Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wah read mischief in the actions of the Treasury as he hailed Speaker Muturi’s admonishment of the Treasury.

“Part of the reason why the estimates are coming late is because the National Treasury wants to take this House by surprise. Your reprimand to the Treasury was very well placed. It is holding this House with a lot of contempt,” he said.

“They want to ensure that we do not have adequate time to critically scrutinise those estimates to ensure that they address the current needs of the people which to a larger extent you will come to see that they do not.”

Mr Ichung’wah dismissed attempts by Leader of Majority Amos Kimunya to defend the Treasury.

“The delay in submission was based on the court ruling that the Division of Revenue Bill has to be passed first before they are presented,” said Mr Kimunya.

“We are still within the two months period. It is not that they were not ready but until the House approves the revenue Bill.”

However, Mr Ichung’wah accused the Leader of Majority of misleading the House and fashioning himself as the Treasury apologist.

“What the court advised was on the passage of the Appropriation Bill and not on tabling estimates. Nothing stops the National Treasury from tabling the estimates,” he said.

Past hangovers

“When the National Treasury errors we must be bold enough to tell them they are erring.”

The estimates were tabled together with the draft Finance Bill 2021, in line with the High Court ruling on September 19, 2018.

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