Gambia Parliament Authority In Kenya For A Five - Day Benchmarking

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The leadership of the National Assembly of Gambia led by Fabakary Tombong Jatta, Speaker of the Gambia National Assembly, is in Kenya for a five-day study visit to the Parliament of Kenya.

The visit is geared towards enabling Members of the Authority to learn from the Parliament of Kenya about the mechanisms, approaches, processes and operations of Kenya's Bicameral Parliament to enable them to strengthen the Gambia National Assembly as a critical institution of governance.

While paying a courtesy call on the Speaker of the National Assembly of Kenya, Moses Wetang'ula, on Tuesday, the team was taken through an overview of the history of the Parliament of Kenya, the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC), their establishment and mandate.

Speaker Wetang'ula observed that in the eighth parliament, an idea was mooted to delink parliament from the executive as it was required under the 2010 constitution, and the parliament then legislated for a constitution-based fund called National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF).

"This was an autonomy fund so that the lawmakers can have some ring fenced funds that can be able to deal with development programs in certain areas in sectors of water, education, health, local security among other issues to promote socio-economic development across the country," he said.

He emphasized that members represent the people and are vested with a cardinal duty to ensure that public resources are properly utilized to benefit the people they represent.

Wetang'ula further stated that the parliament exerted its autonomy, and the lawmakers now enjoy a kitty of an average of a million dollars per annum for delocalized development in addition to what the national and county government must do.

"Parliament is also now completely autonomous; we control our calendar when a member is elected for a five year term they know how the calendar should run and when they have recess they know how they plan themselves," he said.

He said that the trickle mandate of representation, legislation and oversight are shared the same in all the commonwealth parliaments, pointing out that the Kenyan system is unique and is even involved in supplementary budget matters for government operations.

The Speaker elaborated on the role of parliament in the budget-making process, saying that parliament has a fairly responsible and robust responsibility and authority over matters of the government budgets as parliament also approves the Judiciary budget.

He further informed his guests that parliament itself also appropriates its expenditure that is handed to the commission for it to run the affairs of Members of Parliament and Staff.

He said lawmakers representing constituencies are given staff and offices in Nairobi and at their constituencies. At the same time, those nominated are only provided with offices in Nairobi and not from their home constituencies to avoid conflicts with the seating MPs.

The Speaker said that under the new constitution, any member of parliament can freely table legislation in the House for consideration through the set-out House Procedures.

"Any member with the authority of Speaker can draft any bill bring to the House and see if it sails through so we have a lot of liberalized activities in our parliament, " he said.

The Speaker informed the team that the National assembly has 349 members, 290 elected from single-member constituencies, 47 affirmative actions for women and 12 nominated.

The Speaker of the National Assembly of Gambia acknowledged and appreciated Speaker Wetang'ula for according him and his team a warm reception. He noted that Kenya and Gambia have a shared governance history, and Gambia was interested in borrowing a leaf on budget making and governance.

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