LIGHT AT TUNNEL'S END

MPs want probe on leased medical equipment

Lawmakers agree to disburse Sh316.5 billion to devolved units

In Summary
  • Devolved units to get Sh316.5 billion after deal clinched on revenue allocation 
  • The lawmakers want a joint ad-hoc committee on the amount to be disbursed to counties before the publication of Budget Policy Statement
Parliament buildings. /file
Parliament buildings. /file

Legislators on Wednesday reached a deal on the Division of Revenue Bill, 2019, (DoRB), ending a stalemate that had starved counties of cash for months.

The MPs and senators mediating the bill agreed that Sh316.5 billion will be the share of the national revenue to county governments.

They also recommended that Parliament establishes a committee to investigate the Medical Equipment Scheme (MES).

 

The team is expected to table a report in Parliament for approval before the end of the third session, with further conditions that there is proper disclosure on the costing of equipment acquired under the lease. 

The probe was among the conditions the senators set before ceding ground on their earlier push for a review of the medical lease equipment.

County governments are expected to raise Sh200 million annually to help the government meet its obligations on the lease. The idea behind the equipment, most of which is yet to be put into use due to lack of infrastructure, was to grant Kenyans access to better health services without having to travel abroad.

A Senate committee has been pushing for details of the equipment deal between General Electric and the national government in vain. CT scanners, radiography equipment, MRI scanners were among the kits sent to the counties.

The counties will get Sh6.2 billion under the medical equipment scheme and Sh880 million to be shared among 11 counties hosting the country’s water towers.

Once the bill is enacted, Senators will have the legal backing to legislate the County Allocation of Revenue Act, 2019, to occasion the release of funds – probably in the next two weeks.

The fear, however, is that legislating CARA takes long as it depends on what counties have proposed in their budgets – largely on recurrent expenditure.

 

This will take centre-stage in Senate sitting scheduled to be held in Kitui County next week, after which the Treasury will draw a disbursement schedule of the share per county.

The Senate and the National Assembly had tussled over who has the say on the amount to be allocated to the devolved units, staging a mediation process.

Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa, chair of the mediation committee, said they would work on ways to ensure the DoRB is never subjected to unchartered waters.

 
 

Ichung’wa said they hoped members of the Intergovernmental Budget and Economic Council would also agree on the figures in good time next year.

“We do hope that in the next financial year the Executive will play a role, together with the Council of Governors and Commission on Revenue Allocation, in making Parliament’s work easier on this matter,” the two-time lawmaker said.

Going forward, the two Houses plan to create a joint ad-hoc committee to agree on the amount to be disbursed to counties before the Budget Policy Statement (BPS) is published.

The BPS defines the country’s economic framework, a document that MPs say is not easy to amend or deviate from to adjust allocations.

“We can always raise a joint report that spells what should be allocated to counties to be considered by the Budget Committee,” Mandera Senator Mohamed Mahamud said.

The mediation report was approved by both Houses after which the Bill will be presented to President Uhuru Kenyatta for assent.

Other recommendations were that Parliament embarks on a national policy framework on the management of conditional grants to counties.

The committee backed the amendments to the PFM Act, 2012 to allow counties to get a percentage of their allocations in the event the DORB is not passed on time.