CLASH IN TWO HOUSES

Team named to resolve counties funding dispute

Committee appointed from Senate and National Assembly to try and avert cash crisis

In Summary

• Senators want the 47 counties allocated Sh335 billion in the next financial year.

•Their counterparts in the National Assembly want the devolved units allocated Sh310 billion.

Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka and his National Assembly counterpart Justin Muturi
MEDIATION: Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka and his National Assembly counterpart Justin Muturi
Image: FILE

Speakers of the Senate and National Assembly have appointed an eight-member committee to unblock the impasse over the passage of a Bill that has threatened to plunge the counties into a cash crisis.

The two Houses have sharply clashed over the crucial Division of Revenue Bill, 2019.

The mediation committee comprises National Assembly's Majority Leader Aden Duale, his Minority counterpart John Mbadi, MPs Kimani Ichungwa (Kikuyu) and Cecily Mbarire (Nominated); and senators Mohamed Mahamud (Mandera), Mutula Kilonzo Jnr (Makueni), Susan Kihika (Nakuru) and Ledama Olekina (Narok).

 

“I urge the members of the mediation committee to deal with this important assignment expeditiously and report back within the stipulated timelines,” Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka said.

The Bill stipulates the allocation of county government’s equitable share for the 2019-20 financial year which begins next month.

It must be passed and signed into law to allow the National Treasury to disburse funds to the devolved functions starting July.

Last week, MPs rejected the senators' amendments to Bill that increased allocations to the 47 counties to Sh335 billion. 

The MPs had proposed an allocation of Sh310 billion in the next financial year, a figure that was also proposed by the National Treasury.

“We understand that the Senate has the duty to protect the counties. But the interest of the counties should not override our national interest,” said Ichung’ wa, whose Budget committee is responsible for the Bill.

The Commission on Revenue Allocation had also proposed the counties to be allocated Sh335 billion in 2019-20, a position that has received the backing of the Council of Governors.

 

The governors also opposed the striking out of Sh6.2 billion allocated to finance the medical equipment leased to counties under the Managed Equipment Service programme.

Senators say the programme is shrouded in mystery and its funding should be put on hold until the controversies are resolved.

Senators argued that the Sh304 billion used as the baseline by the Treasury for the equitable share of the counties is less than the 15 per cent minimum threshold provided for in the Constitution.

“We must reject in totality the attempt by the National Assembly to reduce the allocation to the counties,” Mandera Senator Mahamud, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, said.

They also want the Sh6.2 billion allocated to the medical equipment leased to the counties under the MES programme struck out from the budget.

On Tuesday, Lusaka unveiled the team of eight legislators, four from each House, to save the counties from running into financial problems.

The committee has 21 days to report back to the houses. However, should the members fail to reach a consensus within the timelines, then the entire Bill will be scrapped and the entire process starts afresh. 

This will send the counties to a serious financial crisis.  Already, the CoG has warned that the counties will not have money to pay June salaries should Parliament fail to pass the Bill on time.

(Edited by R.Wamochie)