Last week one of the points of order raised on the floor of the National Assembly was on the ‘Establishment/Composition/Operation of the Commissions’. MP John Mbadi Ng’ongo asked the Budget and Appropriations Committee to issue a statement on the establishment, composition and operation of all constitutional commissions.
Citing the Constitution, the Public Finance Act, the Public Finance Management Act, MP John Mbadi Ng’ongo, stated that the National Assembly had a “constitutional responsibility under Article 95(4)(c) to exercise oversight over national revenue and its expenditure.” He went on further to state that the National Assembly was “required by law under the Public Finance Management Act Section 7(b) to monitor adherence by Parliament, the Judiciary and the national Government and its entities to the principles of public finance” and ensure that public money was being, “used in a prudent and responsible way and that the national Government expenditure on wages and benefits for its public officers should not exceed a percentage of the national Government revenue as prescribed by regulations.”
The MP has asked that the Budget and Appropriations Committee table the salaries and allowances of all members of the constitutional commissions, including their sitting allowances and rates per sitting. State how many vehicles are allocated to each commissioner and the monthly cost of running the vehicles (including fuel and maintenance costs per Commissioner); and finally to explain the criteria used to arrive at the existing salaries and allowances of members of constitutional commissions.
He asked further that the Statement be delivered as soon as possible to the House so that Members of the National Assembly could “better exercise oversight in the ongoing effort to bring down the wage bill.” He added that the house was going to help the President, “bring down the cost of running the Government.” Stating, “Those who thought that it was just an empty talk should now realize that this is the beginning of a long journey to ensuring that we rationalize public expenditure.”
When the point of order was raised the chairperson of the Budget and Appropriations Committee, MP Mutava Musyimi, indicated that a statement could be ready within a week or within a months’ time at the latest. It turned out a week was all that was required, according to a report in Business Daily; the Committee has recommended that budgets of the Commissions with the exception of the Judiciary Service Commission and the Parliamentary Service Commission be cut by 30 per cent (full story here).
While the information on Commissioners’ salaries and allowances is information that needs to be in the public sphere and should be subject of public debate. In the current context – i.e. the contention between the Members of the National Assembly and the Salaries and Remuneration Commission over salaries and benefits one can’t help but feel like this is an attack on the independence of commissioners a kind of tit for tat. And shouldn’t the above logic be applied to the salaries of the members of the National Assembly?