Members of the National Assembly resume sittings today after a short recess with initially planned legislation on Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) now off the table until the courts determine the fate of the campaign to amend the Constitution.
Before the break last month, Parliament had overwhelmingly passed the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill and MPs were due to consider a raft of Bills to help implement the BBI but which will be suspended pending the outcome of the Court of Appeal petition.
However, topping the in tray for the lawmakers is the approval of the Sh3.6 trillion Budget estimates for the 2021/2022 financial year whose highlights will be presented by National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani on Thursday.
Mr Yatani was put to task by the National Assembly Budget and Appropriation committee last Friday on how the government intends to finance the most expensive budget in the history of the country on the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic that has ruined the economy.
The CS told the committee chaired by Kieni MP Kanini Kega they will amend various acts such as the Tax Act, VAT Act, Excise Duty Act and Tax procedure Act to raise additional revenue.
“We are proposing several amendments to enhance tax administration and dispute resolution operations. These proposals alongside others contained in the Finance Bill will help create the legal and policy framework to achieve our mid-term budget goals,” explained Mr Yatani .
This financial year, the executive has been allocated Sh1.88 trillion, legislature (Sh37 billion) and the Judiciary Sh17 billion.
Apart from the budget, the lawmakers are also set to consider the Finance Bill, 2021, and the Appropriations Bill, 2021, which must be concluded before the end of the financial year on June 30.
The Finance Bill spells out taxation measures to help raise revenue to finance the budget. Bills to implement the BBI once approved by Kenyans through a referendum were to be among the priority agenda but the declaration by the High Court that the process is unconstitutional has halted any progress in Parliament.
The BBI taskforce report made policy and administrative reform recommendations for each of the identified areas that were to be addressed. The recommendations include constitutional amendments, policy reforms, statutory enactments as well as institutional reforms.
Some of the legislative proposals that will be carried out for the smooth implementation of BBI include the amendments of the Public Finance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020, the prompt payment Bill, 2020 to provide a legal framework for the payment of invoices for goods and services procured by public entities within 30 days.
Others include County Ward Development Fund Bill, 2020 in order to create a legal framework for the operationalisation of the Ward Development Fund, Health Act, Election Act, the political parties act, Leadership and Integrity Act, County Government Act among others. However, with the BBI now out of debate for the MPs, other Bills have been lined up for consideration by the House.
The lawmakers will, however, consider the Referendum Bill, 2020 as sponsored by the Departmental Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs before its referral to the Senate. The Bill is currently in third reading.
Also lined up for debate include The National Cohesion and Peace Building Bill (Senate Bill the Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service Bill the Social Assistance (Repeal) Bill (National Assembly Bill, 2020)
The House is also set to debate the report of the Public Accounts Committee chaired by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi on its consideration of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements for the National Government for the Financial Year 2017/2018.