'OUR DEAL'

CoG and Treasury settle on Sh321bn for counties

The deal was reached a day before a mediation team appointed to resolve the impasse meets today

In Summary

• The deal was reached a day before a mediation team appointed by the Senate and the National Assembly to resolve the impasse meets today.

• Senators want the counties allocated Sh335 billion but MPs insist they should get  Sh316 billion 

CoG Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya with Governors Wycliffe Wangamati (Bungoma) and Nderitu Mureithi (Laikipia) after they presented the Budget Proposal Statement before Senate Finance Committee. February 25, 2019.
CoG Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya with Governors Wycliffe Wangamati (Bungoma) and Nderitu Mureithi (Laikipia) after they presented the Budget Proposal Statement before Senate Finance Committee. February 25, 2019.
Image: JACK OWUOR

Counties will get Sh321 billion this financial year if senators and MPs adopt a resolution of the Treasury, Council of Governors and the speakers of Parliament.

Acting Treasury CS Ukur Yatani, CoG chairman Wycliffe Oparanya and speakers Ken Lusaka (Senate) and Justin Muturi (National Assembly) agreed on the amount to end the prolonged standoff over the Division of Revenue Bill, 2019.

The deal was reached a day before a mediation team appointed by the Senate and the National Assembly to resolve the impasse meets today.

 

The two Houses have clashed sharply over the bill that splits funds between the counties and the national government.

While senators want the counties allocated Sh335 billion in the 2019-20 financial year, MPs insist that the devolved units should get Sh316 billion.

The standoff has thrown the devolved units into desperation. Operations in some counties have grounded to a halt after workers kept away demanding their July pay.

Workers in at about six counties are yet to be paid.

The CoG has sued the National Assembly and the Treasury over the stalemate.

The Star established that four governors – Oparanya, Mwangi wa Iria (CoG vice-chairman), Alfred Mutua (Machakos) and Stephen Sang (Nandi) have met Yatani, Lusaka and Muturi over the stalemate.

Yesterday, Mutua said they reached a middle ground to end the deadlock and save devolved units from further sinking into financial crisis.

 

“We agreed to come down and asked the Treasury to come up so that it is a give and take,” Mutua told the Star.

Senators Johnson Sakaja (Nairobi) and Charles Kibiru (Kirinyanga) who are members of the mediation team, on Monday said the speakers were yet to communicate on the deal.

They expected the communication today when the committee convenes for the first time since it was appointed last Thursday on the recommendation of Chief Justice David Maraga.

The panel has at most 30 days to negotiate and report to the Houses its resolutions for adoption or rejection.

“Any agreement will be forwarded to us officially. Governors are not part of the legislative process but the speakers can communicate to us and we discuss. We just want to find the best way out,” Sakaja said.

He said the committee will go beyond the stalemate and look at the Public Finance Management Act, 2012 with a view to amending it to insulate the counties in case of a similar standoff in future.

“We want to look at what we can do to the PFM Act to make sure that even when there is such a situation, counties will still be able to operate,” he added.

In June, similar talks collapsed after the two sides clashed over the amount that should be allocated to the counties.

Last week, Attorney General Paul Kihara threw the spanner in the works after he declared, in advisory opinion to the Senate, that the Treasury cannot disburse funds to the counties unless the wrangling Houses record a statement at the Supreme Court consenting to the disbursement.

“We are of the considered opinion that the Senate and the National Assembly may avail themselves of the opportunity afforded by the petition in the Supreme Court to record an amicable settlement,” Kariuki said.

The AG rendered the advisory after the Senate demanded to know whether there is a legal mechanism through which the Treasury can advance funds to the counties.