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No money for teachers but KES 5 B for El Nino can be found?

30 September 2015, 12:43 Samuel Kisika

Nairobi – The National Treasury Cabinet Secretary, Henry Rotich was put to task to explain why the government can easily get KES 5 billion emergency funds for the predicted October El Nino yet it is difficult to get funds for striking teachers.

Rotich, who appeared before the National Assembly’s Public Accounts committee (PAC) chaired by Nicholas Gumbo (Rarieda) said it was unfair for the government to turn a blind eye on the teachers’ 50 to 60% pay rise on claims that it has no funds yet such huge sums can be raised for emergency purposes.

Kitutu Masaba MP, Timothy Bosire who raised the matter accused the government of deviating from the rule of law in responding to its workers’ plight.

“The government’s response on emerging issues depends on the magnitude of monetary figures required. The scope of budget reorganization to respond to El Nino was tight and we also approached for the donor community’s support through additional funding as soon as disasters occur,” said Rotich.

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He maintained that it is difficult to meet the teachers’ pay rise demand because huge sums of funds are needed which he warned would have a negative impact of the economy such as raising the looming wage bill.    

Rotich pointed out that the KES 5 billion for El Nino was set aside from the Contingent Fund and added various ministries including the Ministry of Roads and Public Works and County Governments have been advised to restructure their budgets to ensure their projects are not affected by the rains.

However, Suba MP John Mbadi faulted the Cabinet Secretary over the government’s inability to pay teachers and said the KES 17 billion demanded can easily be implemented through a Supplementary Budget proposal forwarded to Parliament by Treasury.

“We can’t argue that the government cannot find money to pay teachers. I know if the government asks Treasury to get KES 20 billion by tomorrow, the money will be found. It is obvious, this has always been done through Supplementary Budgets,” said Mbadi.

“In May this year the Office of the President’s budgetary allocation was raised from KES 4 billion to KES 8.5 billion through a Supplementary Budget process and it did not constrain the country’s budget,” he added.

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