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Senate & National Assembly Involved In Legal Battle Over Budget

A court battle has broken out between the two chambers of parliament after Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah sued the National Assembly for excluding the Senate from the passage of the 2022/23 budget.

The petition, dated December 30, 2022, was filed at the High Court in Nairobi to question the legality of the 2022/23 budget that is now funding government services because the Senate was not involved in its adoption.

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If this is resolved favorably, it could cause a national financial disaster. The petition also claims that the National Assembly is in violation of the Constitution by passing laws without the Senate’s approval, including the Appropriations Act 2022 and the Finance Act 2022.

The Busia senator names the National Assembly, the Speaker of the National Assembly, and the Attorney General as the first, second, and third respondents in his lawsuit, pleading with the court to regard the situation as “very urgent.”

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In this situation, the Senate, the Speaker of the Senate, and the Katiba Institute are all designated as interested parties. This will be President William Ruto’s first major test in office, as the government cannot function if the High Court issues the requested orders.

The Busia senator submitted the petition ahead of the PFM Act-mandated 2023/24 budget-making process beginning on February 15, 2023. The National Assembly has already voiced some preliminary concerns, primarily about a senator’s rights as a public litigant.

The National Assembly is asking the court to rule on whether a senator is within his or her rights to file a public lawsuit on an issue that the senator may “freely” legislate on in the House.

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The National Assembly sees foul play in the issue because some of the orders requested in the petition have already been decided by higher courts (including the Court of Appeal) “without any further appeal.”

It was decided that the National Assembly’s sole responsibility is to pass the Finance Act and the Appropriations Act.

According to the PFM Act, the two documents need to be reviewed and authorized within two weeks.

Every year, Congress passes the Finance Act to set tax rates and the Appropriations Act to give the federal government the green light to spend money it has been given by the legislature.

             

Robert Jonnes KE

Robert Jonnes KE is an accredited kenyan media practitioner & journalist that provides compelling news garnished with an acuity of beer and skittles across the digital space.

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