Politics and policy
Bid to block State from withdrawing billions dismissed
Posted Tuesday, June 26 2012 at 20:54
A constitutional court has allowed the Treasury to withdraw Sh424 billion from the Consolidated Fund, easing fears that government operations would stall for lack of money.
The court declined to grant an application by Mars Group, an NGO, that the withdrawal be stopped because the Ministry of Finance was yet to publish the Appropriation Bill as required under the Constitution.
“I am not satisfied that it is proper to grant the orders at this stage,” ruled Justice Mumbi Ngugi after hearing the submission.
But she certified the matter urgent and directed Mars Group lawyer Alex Karanja to serve the respondents—Finance minister Njeru Githae, Attorney- General Githu Muigai and the Controller of Budget, Agnes Odhiambo.
The petition was lodged in court after Parliament passed a motion of Vote on Account last Thursday authorising the Finance minister to withdraw from the Consolidated Sh4245 billion without an Appropriation Bill.
Mars representative Jayne Mati said the move was in contravention of articles 206, 221 and 222 of the Constitution.
She argued the motion of vote on account, was to be brought under the provisions of Article 222 of the Constitution, yet an Appropriation Bill had not been published.
Mr Githae told Parliament last evening that he had published the Appropriations Bill.Mars Group said in a statement following the development that the Bill should be tabled in Parliament for the withdrawal to be lawful.
Constitutional and Human Rights judge David Majanja had ruled on December 23 last year that Article 222 of the Constitution could not apply to withdraw money on a vote on account without the existence of a published appropriations Bill.Mars Group wanted the court to issue a declaration that Parliament contravened the Constitution by allowing a debate, approving and passing the motion authorising the withdrawal of the lump sum from the Consolidated Fund.
The anti-corruption crusaders had also wanted the court to issue a declaration that it was unconstitutional for the Controller of Budget to approve any withdrawal from the Consolidated Fund unless the office was satisfied that the withdrawal was authorised by law.
Legislators last week passed a motion allowing Mr. Githae to withdraw the amount, checking a looming stalemate between the Executive and Parliament.
Mr Githae made a personal undertaking that the Treasury would consider most of the recommendations of the Budget Committee in the Appropriation Bill that is expected before the House.
The money will meet government expenditure for the year starting on July 1.
The Budget committee had vowed to oppose the withdrawal of the funds until Parliament approves the Appropriations Bill, 2012, in line with Article 221 (6) of the Constitution.
They accused the minister of attempting to intimidate MPs not to alter his Budget estimates on grounds that they stood to lose mileage allowances if proposals by the committee were effected.