Explain cash crunch, lawmakers tell Treasury PS

By: JOHN NJAGI

MPs want the National Treasury PS and Kenya Revenue Authority to explain the cash crisis that has seen CDF disbursement being withheld for three months.

And Wednesday, they directed the relevant committees to summon the officials.

Eldas MP Adan Keynan and Runyenjes MP Cecily Mbarire clashed on the floor of the House over a three-day power cut.

Parliament had a power blackout from Friday last week until Monday when the electricity was reconnected, reportedly after the intervention of the Head of the Civil Service Joseph Kinyua.

Mr Keynan, a member of the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC), blamed the Treasury for the failure to pay electricity bills since there was no cash.

However, Ms Mbarire rose on a point of order and said MPs are not happy with the commission’s handling of the issue. She said they wonder why the commission left the bill to pile up to Sh10 million before paying up.

“We should not discuss the power disconnection on the floor of the House. Why did the commission wait for the bill to accumulate and then come here to tell us why it has not been paid? I have been in this House for a while and I can tell you this commission has issues,” she said.

Earlier, Mr Keynan had urged MPs to put aside their party positions since the issues raised were service and welfare-oriented, which affected the work of lawmakers.

Among the activities affected by the cash shortage include, education bursaries, road construction, the running of constituency offices, lack of salaries for MPs’ staff and electricity connection projects at the grassroots.

FINANCIAL CRISIS

However, Mr Keynan said the commission has been assured that the money would be disbursed. He said funds to run constituency offices had been released on Friday.

Wundayi MP Opiyo Wandayi raised the issue in the House, which sparked heated debate. He said the freezing of CDF cash was a ploy to disband the fund, as it came in the wake of a court ruling that declared it unconstitutional.

He also criticised the commission for keeping MPs in the dark over the cause of the financial crisis.

Suba MP John Mbadi said the cash crunch could be as a result of budget management difficulties, cash flow or tax collection challenges.

He said the financial crisis is widespread in other State agencies, including ministries. Mr Mbadi said that by August, only 16 per cent of development budget had been absorbed, and that the situation was affecting the overall growth of the economy.

Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa said essential services including sanitation at Parliament had been affected by lack of money.

In a debate that threatened to split the House along party lines, the Jubilee side appeared to lay the blame on parliamentary committees, while their Cord counterparts blamed the Treasury for the biting shortage.

Nominated MP Johnson Sakaja (TNA) said the Budget Committee should summon Treasury CS Henry Rotich and the Finance Committee should summon revenue officials to establish the cause of the cash shortage. The suggestion by the TNA chairman received MPs’