Economy

State officials face jail for failing to implement MPs’ directives

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Telecom operators will pay customers up to Sh30 per day for dropped calls if Parliament adopts a revived Bill that imposes a penalty for voice service outages. PHOTO | POOL

Public officials who fail to implement Parliament resolutions will be liable to six months in jail or a Sh500,000 fine, or both; should an amendment bill before Parliament become law.

The Powers and Privileges (Amendment) Bill sponsored by Tana River Senator Danson Mungatana and currently before the Senate seeks to compel state workers to implement directives from Parliament within the set time.

Officers who fail to comply with Section 23(b) of the bill commit an offence and are liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding Sh500,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to both.

The section states that a responsible official shall submit a status report to a relevant Parliament committee within 60 days from the date the resolution is conveyed by the clerk or within such period as shall be specified by a resolution of the House.

Mr Mungatana argued that getting feedback on whether an action has been taken or a resolution implemented has been difficult to achieve through the Standing Orders of Houses of Parliament since they are rules for the “orderly and effective discharge of the business of Parliament''.

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He said that although the current Standing Orders provide for reporting on resolutions, very few reports are ever submitted on action taken on the resolutions passed by Parliament.

Consequently, if signed into law, responsible officers will be compelled to submit a status report on resolutions passed by Parliament within 60 days or within such period as shall be specified by the House.

The lawmaker explained that parliamentary committee reports contain important policy recommendations and perspectives that reflect the will of the people and insights from the legislators and other stakeholders, and should not be ignored.

“A lot of time and resources go into the work of Committees and the resultant reports that are tabled and adopted in Parliament. It is therefore antithetical to good governance for those resolutions to be submitted to the Executive and other offices with no action taken or feedback given,” said Mr Mungatana.

He said the Bill is in line with Articles 153(4)(b) and 254(2) of the Constitution which require the Executive, constitutional commissions and independent offices to report to both Houses of Parliament on matters falling within their respective jurisdictions.

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The objective of the bill states that reporting requirements are one of the oversight mechanisms that Parliament employs to monitor the actions of the Executive and other independent offices to ensure accountability, transparency and responsibility in the performance of their duties.

Subsequently, delays or failure to submit reports undermine the ability of Parliament to undertake its oversight mandate.

“The accountability of other arms of government to Parliament is necessary for democratic governance and is anchored on the fundamental principle that Parliament represents the will of the people and exercises their sovereignty,” reads in part the Bill.

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