Teachers would have reason to rejoice if Parliament approves a supplementary budget, in which the Treasury seeks to withdraw Sh61.9 billion from Consolidated Fund to finance Government operations.
The staggering amount sought by the Treasury has been raised through severe cut backs affecting more than 20 ministries and Government departments.
The money is needed for the Government to finance the March 4 elections, pay teachers, continue its military operations in Somalia, and prepare for President Kibaki’s transition, among others.
Traditionally, the Supplementary Estimates have always been brought to the House for debate and approval in March every year, but this time, Parliament is set to be dissolved on January 14, and, therefore, the need to approve the spending early. ?
According to the estimates tabled by Finance Minister Njeru Githae in the House on Wednesday, Treasury is asking for Sh54.9 billion to finance recurrent expenditure and an additional Sh7 billion for development, notably in the Judiciary, Parliament, and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.
When Githae tabled the estimates, the Budget Committee Chairman Elias Mbau wanted them scrutinsed by a committee of the next Parliament, arguing that there was no time to carry out the exercise.
“Mr Speaker, there is no sufficient time to interrogate all the issues raised in the estimates. I am asking that the same be deferred till the next Parliament,” he added.
But Githae objected to the proposal arguing past committees have taken three to four days to do the job, which is not different from the current task. The Speaker agreed with Githae.
The estimates are to be debated in Parliament on Tuesday, next week.
The biggest losers of the cut back include the Ministry of Public Service (Sh3.5 billion), Parliamentary Service Commission (Sh452 million), Judiciary (Sh346 million), and Ministry of Education (Sh182 million).
While the Cabinet had earlier approved an additional Sh73.2 billion as supplementary budget to fund Government operations, Githae has scaled down this figure to Sh61.9 billion. ?If approved, the list of ministries and Government departments that will receive the largest portion of this additional funding include the Teachers Service Commission, Ministry of State for Provincial Administration and Internal Security, the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), and the Ministry of State for Defence.
In the recurrent Supplementary Estimates under discussion, the Government is seeking Sh17.7 billion to pay for increased perks awarded to teachers in public schools. This forms the biggest chunk of the Sh54.9 billion recurrent expenditure requested for in the 2012/2013 Supplementary Budget Estimates.
Next on line is the Parliamentary Service Commission with a budget of Sh13. 4 billion. This amount includes funding of the two-tier chamber of Parliament that incorporates the Senate and the National Assembly.
The national Assembly takes a huge chunk of the budget with Sh8.8 billion allocated to it. The Senate has been allocated Sh1.5 billion.
The National Assembly will have 350 members out of which voters will directly elect 290. The rest will be nominated. The Senate will have 67 members of which 47 will be directly elected, and 20 nominated.
The joint services for both the Senate and the National Assembly has been allocated Sh2.8 billion. IEBC, which is planning March 4 elections, has been allocated an additional Sh6.7 billion to prepare adequately for the polls.
The Ministry of State for Provincial Administration and Internal Security is to be allocated Sh6.7 billion to cater for recruitment and additional security operations during elections.
The Ministry of Defence has been allocated Sh5.7 billion to partly fund the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) operations in Somalia. ? The largest allocation of the Sh7 billion development expenditure is Sh3.2 billion to be spent by the newly formed Transition Authority — the unit that will oversee the setting up of a devolved system of government.
The authority is responsible for the transition from the current system under Kibaki to the devolved one where governors will run the 47 counties governments.
Then there is Sh3.18 billion to the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, and Sh3.13 billion to the Ministry of Energy.
The Independent Police Oversight Authority has been allocated Sh246 million to begin carrying out its mandate in a re-organised structure for the regular and Administration Police.
The National Police Service Commission will be given Sh4 million to fund its recurrent expenditure until June, which marks the end of the 2012-2013 financial year.
Parliament’s in-tray is full as it races to pass all crucial Bills, including the Supplementary Budget before it is dissolved on January 14.
For instance, to activate a devolved system of government, Parliament has already approved key Bills. On the list of approved laws by Cabinet include the Division of Revenue Bill 2012, which sets out the allocation of funds in the 2013/2014 budget between County and Central governments, and County Allocation of Revenue Bill 2012, which provides for the equitable division of revenue raised nationally among county governments.
By Jackson Okoth, The Standard