Omtatah seeks to have Finance Act declared unconstitutional

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Activist Okiya Omtatah has moved to court challenging Finance Act, 2019, arguing that it is unconstitutional as there was non-compliance with established parliamentary procedures during its passage.

Further, Mr Omtatah says President Kenyatta abused his veto powers under Article 115(1)(b) of the Constitution, to the extent that he not only vetoed the Finance Bill, 2019, but in his memorandum of reservations, he drafted proposed amendments to the Bill.

He said the President does not have powers to legislate.

SEPARATION OF POWERS

“The petitioner posits that by so doing, the President engaged in legislation and that breached the separation of powers doctrine, which is entrenched in the Constitution of Kenya, 2010,” he said.

President Kenyatta expressed his reservations, to delete Clause 45 of the Bill, which related to the capping of interest rates chargeable on loans advanced by banks and other financial institutions.

The move amended the Banking Act to remove rates chargeable on loans but the activist said this went beyond the powers donated to him under Article 115(1)(b), to only express his reservations, but not blocking legislation he was not in agreement with.

ORIGINAL BILL

“The petitioner submits that the abuse of the veto powers by the President invalidated the exercise of the same and, effectively, it meant that there was no veto, hence, the original Finance Bill, 2019 presented to him for assent on October 7, 2019 became law at the expiry of 14 days pursuant to 115(1) and (6) of the Constitution,” he argued.

Mr Omtatah further said that National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi misrepresented facts, and misapplied the law by declaring that the Presidential reservation was fully accommodated despite the fact that Parliament modified the said reservations to limit their application.

He further said the presidential reservation on the Finance Bill was not subjected to public participation.

He wants the court to issue a declaration that the President has no powers to legislate by making recommendations to Parliament, and that his veto powers are limited to expressing his reservations and not drafting his proposed amendments to Bills.

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Didan Odhiambo