Experts rekindle talk on reducing number of MPs, MCAs

Auditor-General Edward Ouko speaks before the National Assembly Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee on March 1, 2018, regarding a socio-economic audit of the Constitution. Mr Ouko's team proposed a reduction of the number of lawmakers. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Ms Odhiambo also urged Parliament to consider reviewing mandates of various constitutional commissions.
  • The committee is considering the report and is required to come up with specific constitutional amendment bills to reduce public expenditure.

The number of MPs and MCAs could reduce if Parliament implements a report by experts who conducted a socio-economic audit of the Constitution.

The team, formed in 2014 by the National Assembly, was chaired by Auditor-General Edward Ouko.

On Thursday, the team argued out its case before the MPs, saying the current numbers are above the global average and, therefore, not practical for the economy.

This came as Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo proposed the removal of the National Government Constituency Development Fund from the care of MPs, noting that having elected leaders implement development projects in their areas contravened the principal of separation of powers.

RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
Mr Ouko and Ms Odhiambo made the remarks when they appeared before the National Assembly Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee.

“The reduction of MPs and MCAs should be done without compromising national values on diversity, protection of vulnerable groups and the marginalised and the equality principle regarding the gender,” Mr Ouko told the MPs.

Currently, there are 416 legislators: 67 senators, 349 members of the National Assembly and over 1,500 MCAs.

The proposal comes at a time when the polls agency has begun delimiting areas with the possibility of increasing the electoral units.

The experts were required to assess the impact of the implementation of the Constitution on the economy, evaluate the social impact and make recommendations to MPs on prudent management of resources.

COMMITTEES
According to Prof Karuti Kanyinga, who was a member of the audit team alongside Dr Conrad Bosire, the recommendation to have the number of leaders reduced was made on the understanding that Kenya is overrepresented and that her representatives “are some of the most highly paid compared to countries with similar population and size of the economy”.

Ms Odhiambo also urged Parliament to consider reviewing mandates of various constitutional commissions and identify those for merger as well as reduce the number of commissioners.

“We don’t need nine members in one commission. We can go for the minimum numbers, which is three or merge those whose mandates appear similar,” she said, noting that members may serve on full or part-time basis.

POLICYMAKERS
The committee, chaired by Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni, is considering the report and is required to come up with specific constitutional amendment bills to reduce public expenditure.

According to Mr Ouko, the law should be reviewed to provide for a strong electoral commission secretariat as a small number of electoral commissioners responsible for providing policy direction only.

The law provides that constitutional commissions shall consist of at least three and not more than nine members.

The Constitution also established one commission for human rights, but gave Parliament the powers to establish two or more separate commissions.

In line with this, Parliament established the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, the National Gender and Equality Commission and the Commission on Administrative Justice.

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