National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u has been ordered to pay a Sh500,000 fine for skipping five summons to appear before the Senate Committee on Education to answer questions on payment of retired teachers’ pension.
Members of the committee yesterday refused to set aside the fine imposed on Prof Ndung’u on June 29 when he failed to show up for a meeting with the committee and instead sent a letter explaining that he would be attending a Cabinet meeting. He is expected to pay the fine in his personal capacity.
He was summoned to appear before the committee on August 7 but the senators said that he should appear in seven days, failure to which he would be reported to the full House for possible institution of impeachment proceedings against him.
The matter before the committee relates to payments of pension dues for 23,487 teachers who retired over 20 years ago. In May this year, Prof Ndung’u wrote to the committee claiming that Sh16.08 billion had been paid to the teachers although they deny receiving the cash.
The CS had previously snubbed the committee summons four times and angered the senators when he failed to appear before them yesterday.
They expected him to shed light on a petition regarding payments for teachers who retired between 1997 and 2007 and who have been fighting in the courts for years to get the money.
“The CS must appear before this committee at the date shared but not at his convenience. We’ll inform the house about such rogue CSs,” said Peris Tobiko, who chaired the sitting.
On July 4, Prof Njuguna wrote to the Clerk of the Senate JM Njegenye asking him to revoke the decision by the committee to impose a fine on him after he failed to honour four summons. He was informed of the decision to fine him on June 29 and was meant to pay up by July 12.
“Article 125 of the Constitution and Sections 18 and 20 of the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act, 2017 empower the Senate and any of its committees to summon any person to appear before it for the purpose of giving evidence or information,” reads the summons.
Mr Njegenye also stated that apart from the fine, the committee might order the arrest and prosecution of the CS. The offence carries a maximum penalty of a fine of Sh200,000 or a six-month jail term or both.
“We’ll give him one last chance so that he won’t use Cabinet meetings as an excuse,” said Ms Tobiko.
Laikipia Senator John Kinyua said that the committee should consider a motion to impeach Prof Ndung’u should he fail to honour the summons.
“Teachers are waiting for answers from us but the CS is taking us in circles. Kenyans expect us to work, not joke,” he said.