National Assembly meets  starting today Tuesday  for special sittings

National Assembly meets starting today Tuesday for special sittings

BY JOAN WANJIKU,NAIROBI,21ST DEC,2021-The National Assembly is holding a special sitting starting Tuesday with a number of crucial bills lined up for debate.

Apart from the Bills, Speaker Justin Muturi recalled the House from Christmas break to approve of certain state officers nominated by the President.

In his notification to lawmakers, Speaker Muturi noted that the House will consider the appointment of the Chairperson of the Public Service Commission and the appointment of Members of the National Gender and Equality Commission.

The respective Committees that conducted the vetting of the officers have recommended their appointment to the office.

Speaker Muturi said that the House will also consider The Huduma Bill 2021 which is set to be read for the first time in the House. Another major bill to be considered is the Political Parties (Amendment) Bill, 2021. The Bill has so far generated mixed responses with lawmakers allied to Deputy President William Ruto promising to shoot it down. Pro-Uhuru and Raila MPs are however optimistic the bill will sail through.

The Political Parties (Amendment) Bill, 2021 is in Second Reading and proposes to amend the Political Parties Act to provide for among others, recognition of coalition political parties and the roles and functions of political parties including recruitment and nomination of candidates.

The legislative proposal further seeks to tighten the process of the registration of political parties and provide clear guidance on when a member would be deemed to have resigned from a political party and the grounds for the expulsion of such a member from a political party.

The Bill sponsored by the Leader of the Majority Party in the National Assembly also provides for the amendment of section 21 of the Act to provide for both suspension and deregistration of a political party. It also seeks to address the contentious matter of disbursements of monies from the Political Parties Fund.

In a bid to protect elected leaders whose political parties may be deregistered while in office, the Bill seeks to provide for their continued holding of office whether they join another political party or remain independent of any political party after deregistration of the party that sponsored them to office. The Bill further seeks to reinforce the mandate and functions of the Registrar of Political Parties and that of the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal.

Also to be considered is the NHIF (Amendment) Bill, 2021, the  KIRDI Bill 2020 (which is in Third Reading), ; and the Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering (Amendment) Bill, 2021;

With regard to the National Hospital Insurance Fund (amendment) Bill, 2021, the House will consider the proposed amendments by the Senate to the Bill.

The Senate has proposed several radical amendments to the Bill sponsored by the Leader of the Majority Party in the National Assembly, which was considered and passed by the National Assembly in September 2021.  The Bill must get approval from both Houses since health is a devolved function.

Among the amendments proposed by Senators is the reduction of fines and jail terms for fraudsters impersonating National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) enrolled members.

They have proposed the reduction of the fine to Kshs. 100,000 from the Kshs. 1 million approved by the National Assembly and lowered the jail term to six months from two years. The Assembly had sought to impose stiff penalties on fraudsters to slam brakes on their continued bleeding of the State Fund.

The MPs had taken a seven-week recess on December 2, 2021, and were set to resume on January 25, 2022.

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