By David Mwere
President Uhuru Kenyatta wants parliament to expedite the enactment of five bills he says are crucial to the implementation of government programmes under the Big Four agenda.
The Big Four are Universal Health Coverage, food security, affordable housing and manufacturing.
In his appeal to the National Assembly and Senate, Mr Kenyatta said the mediation process on Land Value Index Laws (Amendment) Bill, Physical Planning Bill, Irrigation Bill, Warehouse Receipt System Bill and Kenya Roads Bill should be fast-tracked.
In his address to the nation last Thursday, the President gave a rare thumbs up to parliament saying it remains a strident defender of “our democracy”.
“I laud parliament for its steady guiding hand as we implement our transformative agenda for the country and its commitment to playing its constitutionally mandated oversight role,” he said.
Last week, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi appointed members to the four mediation committees on the bills.
Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka is also required to reciprocate by appointing his team of members to the mediation committees so they can come up with agreed versions of the bills.
The committees, under article 113 (4) of the Constitution, have 30 days to conclude the exercise.
The count begins on the day they hold their first meetings as fully constituted entities.
The advent of the committees came after the National Assembly rejected several of the Senate’s amendments to the five bills.
National Assembly majority leader Aden Duale and his minority colleague John Mbadi are among the members to the four mediation committees.
In an unprecedented move and to develop agreed versions of the land laws and physical planning bills, Mr Muturi directed the mediation committee to hear the expert input of Funyula MP Wilberforce Oundo.
The MP’s professional expertise and experience as a PhD holder in land economics will be useful in the mediation process.
“Of course the member will not form part of the membership of the committee, but will participate as an expert on land economics and physical planning. I am confident he will render his invaluable professional services at no cost,” Mr Muturi said.
The land laws bill is also crucial to the government’s infrastructure development plan as it aims to harmonise land compensation by providing for negotiated valuation that will bring down the cost, thereby helping the government to roll out projects faster.
It will cure the current situation where the government has to pay highly inflated figures as compensation courtesy of corrupt state and public officers.
The roads bill is crucial to the development of infrastructure.
An attempt by senators to introduce amendments to allow them sit in constituency road development committees was rejected by members of the National Assembly.
The physical planning bill was to be passed within the first five years of the implementation of the 2010 Constitution. Parliament can either pass this bill or risk dissolution proceedings in court.
The Warehouse Receipt System Bill (Senate Bill No. 10 of 2017) and the Irrigation Bill have vital budgetary implications on the 2018/19 budget which is now in its fourth quarter.
Further delays in passing the two bills will see the government lose about Sh20 billion because the financiers of the medium term plans want a legal framework before they can release funds.
According to Mr Muturi, the mediation committees on the two bills are required to submit their mediated versions as soon as possible.
The mediation committee on the roads bill has Mr Duale (Garissa Township), Junet Mohamed (Suna East), Cecily Mbarire (nominated) David Pkosing (Pokot South) and Thomas Kajwang’ (Ruaraka).
The Warehouse Receipt System Bill has Mr Duale, Robert Mbui (Kathiani), Adan Haji (Mandera South), John Mutunga (Tigania West) and Ferdinand Wanyonyi (Kwanza).
The committee on Land Value Index Laws (Amendment) bill and Physical Planning bill has the majority leader, Mr Mbadi (Suba South), Rachael Nyamai (Kitui South), Caleb Kositany (Soy) and Mishi Mboko (Likoni).
The committee on Irrigation bill has Mr Duale, Dr Chris Wamalwa (Kiminini), Josephat Kabinga (Mwea), Dr Daniel Kamuren (Mogotio) and Florence Mutua (Busia Woman MP).