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Senate in bid to revive Sh1bn oversight fund

A Senate committee is set to start discussions aimed at reviving a Sh1 billion fund meant for oversight of counties that was rejected by the National Assembly.

The senators had proposed to have the fund factored in the budget to enable them monitor how governors were utilizing devolved funds.

The Session Committee on County Monitoring, Evaluation and Impact Assessment Fund that is chaired by Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi is expected to meet Thursday with MPs, to consider how to progress on the fund.

Last year, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi named a team of MPs led by Budget and Appropriations Committee chairman Mutava Musyimi to discuss with their Senate counterparts to see how the money can be made available to the Senate.

Progress on the special fund was cut short after the Committee on Delegated Legislation last year annulled the rules on the management of the fund developed by the Treasury.

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Senators have maintained that there is a lot of wastage of public funds at the counties and the fund is important to enhance the Senate’s role to correct the mess.

The National Assembly’s Committee on Delegated Legislation had called for annulment of the regulations developed to manage how the money allocated to the Senate is used.

The MPs said the regulations were not developed in accordance with the Public Finance Management Act.

EXECUTIVE

But the senators on Wednesday said by refusing to pass the regulations that could have allowed them access the fund, the MPs have demonstrated they supported wastage at counties.

Citing the recently released audit reports that showed wanton misappropriation of public funds, Senate Majority Leader, Prof Kithure Kindiki said it is wrong for the MPs to play politics with a serious matter like corruption.

“The fund is important. We are not asking for funds for the sake of it, unless if we don’t care how public are spent,” Prof Kindiki said.

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At one point, the Senators threatened to suspend any government business to pile pressure on the executive to push MPs to endorse regulations to govern the fund.

The lawmakers said they would ignore legislations referred to them for approval from the national assembly, in protest the move by the MPs to reject the regulations.

The senators said they might consider moving to court to bar MPs from opposing measures that are meant to protect devolution and ensure public funds are prudently spent.

They said the regulations were a product of wide consultations that also involved some of the MPs who later opposed them when the matter came up for adoption.

Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr (Makueni) accused the MPs for taking instructions from the executive to portray the Senate as inefficient so that it can be scrapped.

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He faulted the MPs for resorting to insults and cheapening the debate on whether the Senate deserved the oversight funds.

Mr Kilonzo Jnr said as pioneers of devolution, the senate should not sit and watch as corruption cartels drain the countries resources, by ensuring there are no watertight measures to detect fraud.

“This is politics of finishing this Senate and devolution. We have to put our party interests aside and allow the voice of reason to prevail,” Mr Kilonzo Jnr said.

The lawmakers said they will approach the matter in a bipartisan manner saying the MPs opposition had nothing to do with the law as they claimed, but were politicizing the matter.

They said members of county assemblies cannot be trusted to oversight counties because there have been concerns that they are usually influenced by the governors to endorse mistakes.

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