SEEKING CONSENSUS

Lusaka forms team on contentious revenue formula

It will consolidate all the amendments to the disputed formula proposed by House Finance and Budget Committee.

In Summary

• Senate leadership has lined up a series of meetings to build consensus around the contentious formula.

• Senators on Tuesday failed to debate and vote on the disputed formula.

Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka
CONSENSUS: Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka
Image: EZEKIEL AMING'A

Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka on Wednesday appointed a nine-member committee to spearhead negotiations on the contentious third basis for revenue sharing among counties.

The committee, chaired by Deputy Speaker Margaret Kamar, will among other things consolidate all the amendments to the disputed formula proposed by the House Finance and Budget Committee.

“They will invite and listen to all senators with amendments and formulas to the report tabled by the committee,” Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka said on Wednesday.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Currently, there are six proposed amendments to the committee formula in the Senate.

They are sponsored by Johnson Sakaja (Nairobi), Abdullahi Ali (Wajir), Mutula Kilonzo Jr (Makueni), Kimani Wamatangi (Kiambu), Ledama Ole Kina (Narok), and James Orengo (Siaya).

In Sakaja’s proposal, the Sh316.5 billion allocated to the counties last year is the baseline upon which no county shall get less. The Nairobi senator wants other parameters to apply on any other amounts above the baseline.

Wamatangi, on the other hand, wants the parameters to apply on the Sh316.5 billion.

Orengo wants the disputed formula sent to Commission on Revenue Allocation for improvement before a report is filed back to the Senate.

The team will file their findings with the Senate leadership in a sitting scheduled for Friday before presenting the same to an informal members' sitting, better known as a Kamukunji, on Monday.

The team was formed during a Senate leadership meeting held at Parliament Buildings on Tuesday.

Among those who attended the meeting were Majority Leader Samuel Poghisio (West Pokot) and Majority Chief Whip Irungu Kang’ata (Murang'a).

 
 
 
 
 

The two have been blamed for failing to lead the House to reach a compromise on the standoff.

Others were minority leader James Orengo (Siaya), deputy Senator Cleophas Malala, Minority Whip Mutula Kilonzo (Makueni),  Charles Kibiru (Kirinyaga), who chairs the House committee on Budget and Finance, and Senate Clerk Jeremiah Nyegenye.

Lusaka said they had already advised the team to put together a schedule of how they will hold their meetings starting Thursday morning.

“It’s inevitable that they must organise for a retreat to deliberate and listen to everyone so that we are able to come up with a formula agreeable to all sides,” he said.

 

Lusaka said the Senate leadership decision was informed by the realisation among senators that their hardline positions would divide the country.

He asked for calm among Kenyans as Senate tries to settle the matter amicably, insisting that by Tuesday next week an agreeable approach to the issue will have been reached.

On Tuesday, the lawmakers failed for a record seventh time to debate and vote on a proposed formula to unlock the release of funds to the county governments.

The debate was adjourned following a motion by Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen so as to allow negotiations.

During Tuesday’s adjournment debate, Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang'ula proposed to the House leadership to call for a retreat with 47 Senators to discuss an appropriate and fair formula.

“In a majoritarian situation the winner takes it all, but is it the way we want for this country? We must understand that a pain to one Kenyan is a pain to all Kenyans,” Wetang'ula urged.

Orengo proposed that the Senate, under the Speaker’s guidance, meet in the course of the week for further consultations to resolve the revenue allocation quagmire as the Bill was time-bound.

“The emphasis is on the word equity. But the Bill of Rights is about equality. Dealing with equality is much easier than dealing with equity. When it comes to public finances and allocation of resources, we are dealing with the concept of equity,” Orengo said.

The controversial formula has proved a headache for the Senate leadership, especially for Poghisio and Kang’ata who were recently installed in the positions.

They have been mandated with pushing the government’s agenda in the House, including the disputed formula that has been opposed by some of the ruling party members.

Edited by Henry Makori