COUNTIES MUST STICK TO BUDGET CEILINGS-COURT.

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Members of County Assemblies (MCAs) Lawyer Tom Ojienda (centre) with Kilifi county assembly speaker Jimmy Kahindi (left) and his Mandera counterpart Abdi Kadir at Milimani courts on Thursday 24/07/2014.
BY SAM ALFAN.
The case by 47 county assemblies where the petitioners were seeking the court to quash county budgetary allocation ceilings set by Salaries and Remuneration Commission has been dismissed. Whilst rendering his verdict justice Isaac Lenaola reiterated that the SRC was not bound by the Constitution to seek information and representations from the County Government before making its recommendations on budget ceilings.
The 47 County assemblies through their lawyer professor Tom Ojienda hmoved to the high court last year challenging the decision by the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) to reduce their budgetary
They claimed that this breached their constitutional rights. However Lenaola ruled on the contrary saying that even if the SRC had put ceilings that action does not violate the law.
Adding that it is core responsibility of the SRC to recommend the manner in which the National Revenue is to be shared between the two levels of Government and among the Counties and such recommendation may include prescribing ceilings.
County assemblies’ claim that the operations of Counties have been paralyzed Members of County Assemblies (MCAs) on Thursday made good their threat to move to court over their 2014/15 budget stalemate with the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) and Controller of Budget.
In a suit filed by Speakers of all 47 County Assemblies on behalf of their residents, the MCAs want the Controller of Budget compelled to implement the counties’ budgets for the 2014/15 fiscal year.
The assemblies say that circulars issued in April and July this year limiting their spending are against the spirit of the constitution.
The county assemblies are aggrieved by circulars sent to them by the Commission of Revenue Allocation and Controller of Budget in April and July 2014 directing county assembly speakers to enforce the mandatory ceiling to financial allocations for the financial year 2014/2015.
It is against this background that they appeared before Justice Isaac Lenaola who certified their case as urgent and ordered them to serve the respondents.
The MCAs want the court to quash the directive with Mandera County Speaker Abdi Kadir Sheikh saying that the budgetary ceilings are meant to derail devolution in the country.
According to them the County Assemblies in approving their own budgets are within the law and that CRA and the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) has no mandate to set caps on budgets and allowances.
The MCAs are specifically opposed to the budget restrictions on salaries, allowances, gratuity and mileage.
The budgetary limits were imposed following a report revealing that Members of the County Assemblies had spent 2 billion shillings on activities outside their mandate.

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