Court suspends implementation of Kirinyaga County budget estimates for 2020/2021

Milimani Law Courts

High Court has suspended the implementation of the Kirinyaga county budget estimates for the financial year 2020/2021 as illegally and unilaterally amended and approved by the county Assembly.

Justice Weldon Korir ordered the Kirinyaga County speaker not to authorize any withdrawal from the county revenue Fund until the case challenging the budget estimates and appropriation bill passed on 30th June is heard and determined.

The judge also issued interim orders preventing the assent and publication of Kirinyaga County Appropriation bill 2020.

“An interim conservatory order is hereby issued suspending and staying of the Kirinyaga county fiscal strategy paper 2020 as illegally and unilaterally amended and approved by the county Assembly pending hearing and determination of the petition”, Judge ordered.

The court further directed the National treasury not to authorize any withdrawals from county revenue funds through IFMIS which it operates by virtue of section 12(1) of the Public Finance Management Act 2012.

In the case, Kirinyaga County government moved to court claiming the said Kirinyaga County Appropriation Bill 2020 was illegally prepared by the Kirinyaga County Assembly in blatant violation of sections 129(7) and 130(2) of the Public Finance Management, Act No. 18 of 2012, which provides that it is the sole mandate of the County Executive Committee Member for Finance to prepare the said Bill. 

The court heard that the Kirinyaga County Appropriations Bill 2020 makes significant changes in the County Annual Budget Estimates and further violates the provisions of section 138 of the Public Finance Management Act by removing from the budget development funds allocated by donors and which mandatorily must be applied to specific development projects. The 1st Respondent allocated to itself the full donor funds meant for development. 

“The Kirinyaga County Appropriation Bill 2020 was in respect of Budget Estimates illegally and irregularly approved by the Kirinyaga County Assembly and approval of the Budget Estimates, by the county assembly was in blatant violation of the Public Finance Management Act, and Regulation 37(1) of the Public Finance Management Act (County Governments) Regulations 2015,” the court heard.

It is alleged that approval by the county assembly varied the Annual Budget estimates by a wide and unprecedented margin of between -68% and 278% contrary to the 1% point permitted by law and Budget Estimates approved by the 1st Respondent were based on a County Fiscal Strategy Paper (CFSP) which the County Assembly prepared, fundamentally altering the fiscal framework adopted by the County Executive  in a manner inconsistent with the Public Finance Management Act, the National Budget Policy Statement and the County Treasury circulars on the management of County funds.  

The county assembly is accused of illegally and completely ignoring the Budget Estimates prepared by the CECM in charge of Finance and proceeded to illegally amend the same on the basis of the provisions of the illegally prepared CFSP which it purported to pass after failing, refusing and neglecting to seek the views of the CECM-Finance in blatant violation of the Public Finance Management Act.   

In addition, the County Assembly is said to have passed the Appropriations Bill 2020 despite an observation by the Budget and Appropriations Committee (BAC) that the Budget Estimates 2020 should not affect the operations of the County Government by inter alia depriving the County Government monies for its operations.  

“The passage of the Bill, by the 1st Respondent, was in gross violation of Article 175 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 in so far as the 1st Respondent acted ultra vires its mandate and by varying the budget will impede and deprive the Petitioner the ability to effectively provide services to the people of the County of Kirinyaga due to a resultant loss in jobs for over 400 health care providers and 200 civil servants, said the County Government.