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Senator Okiya Omtatah sues National Assembly over budget-making process

Senator Okiya Omtatah sues National Assembly over budget-making process

Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah has filed a court case challenging the exclusion of the Senate from the budget-making process and fund allocation via the Appropriation Act, asserting that neglecting its input renders the process invalid.

In his High Court petition, Mr. Omtatah claims that section 39(1) of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) is unconstitutional because it sets June 30 as the deadline for the annual Appropriation Bill and other relevant bills needed to implement the budget.

He contends that the Senate’s role in legislation has been disregarded by the National Assembly, despite the Senate ensuring all regions and interests are represented and financial legislation is thoroughly examined.

He asserts that the Senate must participate in fund allocation to constitutional commissions, independent offices, and the Parliamentary Joint Services, as per Articles 96(1) & (2), 109, and 110 of the Constitution.

“Although budget estimates and the Appropriation Bill are introduced in the National Assembly, they must also be considered, debated, and passed by the Senate before being signed into law by the President,” he stated in the petition.


Justice Lawrence Mugambi certified the case as urgent and instructed Mr. Omtatah to serve court documents to the respondents within three days, setting a mention date for July 11 for further directions.

Mr. Omtatah argues that excluding the Senate violates the constitutional principles of devolution and bicameralism, which ensure inclusive and comprehensive legislative processes.

He claims that bypassing the Senate undermines its role in representing counties and providing an additional layer of scrutiny to national financial legislation.

“The petitioners are aggrieved that since devolution began in 2013, the National Assembly has annually passed unconstitutional national budgets by consistently excluding the Senate from considering, debating, and approving budget estimates and the annual Appropriation Act,” he stated.

The Busia senator seeks to ensure that from the 2024/2025 financial year onwards, budget estimates and the Appropriation Bill are considered, debated, and approved in strict accordance with the Constitution.

He noted that the budget estimates were presented to the National Assembly on April 30, 2024, in line with Article 221(1) of the Constitution, which includes estimates for constitutional commissions and independent offices, such as the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, Commission on Administrative Justice, and National Gender and Equality Commission.

“Thus, it is essential for the estimates and the Appropriation Bill to be presented to the Senate for a thorough review and input from both Houses of Parliament,” he said.

President William Ruto has refused to assent to the Finance Bill, 2024, sending it back to Parliament following protests from Kenyans in at least 35 counties.

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On Monday, National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula explained that President Ruto’s Memorandum constitutes a complete rejection of the Bill.

Mr. Wetang’ula clarified that the Bill would be nullified upon approval of the President’s reservations and recommendations by the National Assembly.

“Any Member intending to override the President’s reservations or reinstate any of the 69 clauses of the Bill must secure the support of at least two-thirds of the National Assembly Members, totaling 233 Members,” he said.

He explained that the President’s recommendation to delete all clauses was driven by the need to reflect the voice of Kenyans who opposed the Bill.

“The Committee and the House will consider this justification in their deliberations,” Mr. Wetang’ula said.

He assured that the Bill cannot become law merely by the passage of time, as it has been referred back to the National Assembly for reconsideration due to the President’s reservations.

President Ruto has assented to the Appropriation Bill, 2024, and Mr. Wetang’ula stated that the financial gap of approximately Sh300 billion, caused by the rejection of the Finance Bill, 2024, will be addressed through a supplementary Appropriation Bill.

Senator Okiya Omtatah sues National Assembly over budget-making process