DIVISIVE FORMULA

Looming fireworks as senators head into contentious revenue debate

Heated debate looming as House reconvenes.

In Summary

• Senators failed to hold an informal meeting (Kamukunji) as ordered by Speaker Kenneth Lusaka to strike a balance ahead of the Tuesday’s sitting.

• The two warring camps are daring each other for a duel on Tuesday.

Senators led by Kilifi's Stewart Madzayo at Parliament Buildings on July 7
STAND: Senators led by Kilifi's Stewart Madzayo at Parliament Buildings on July 7
Image: EZEKIEL AMING'A

A showdown is looming as senators reconvene for a record tenth time on Tuesday to debate and vote on the contentious third basis for sharing county revenue.

The lawmakers head into the high-stakes sitting a divided house, even after Speaker Kenneth Lusaka postponed last week’s debate to allow for consensus building.

On Monday, they failed to hold an informal meeting (Kamukunji) as ordered by Lusaka to strike a balance ahead of the Tuesday’s sitting.

 
 

Lusaka had ordered for the meeting to brief the senators on the resolution of the House leadership on the proposals fronted by a 12-member informal committee formed to strike a deal on the formula.

The committee had presented two contradicting reports to the leadership led by Majority leader Samuel Poghisio (West Pokot) and Minority leader James Orengo (Siaya).

The panel recommended to the leaders to consult President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga for further consensus building.

On Monday, the speaker came under fire for failing to sanction the meeting, even as the two warring camps maintained their hardline stance, daring each other for a duel as they head into the sitting.

“The speaker has thrown us under the bus. The select committee work is a waste. The Kamukunji was supposed to get a brief before plenary,” Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr said.

Mutula, who is a standing figure in Team Kenya, the camp opposing a controversial formula that cuts allocation to 18 counties by Sh17 billion, said the botched meeting was part of the ‘shenanigans’ to push through the divisive formula.

“Team Kenya anticipated the shenanigans and have a plan. There is no way we will append our signatures to a formula that disadvantages our county of Garissa or Wajir,” he added.

 
 

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei, who belongs to the rival camp, dared their colleagues for a vote, saying his side, which supports the ‘One-man, One-shilling’ narrative, has the numbers.

“We shall rumble in the jungle. We are ready for the vote we finish this thing once and for all. We can comfortably go to the vote,” Cherargei said.

The Star on Monday established that the ‘One-man, One-shilling’ camp, which reportedly has the support of Uhuru and Raila, has won over four members from the other side.

“We have the numbers. We are 25 in number but we cannot reveal the details because that is a war strategy,” the Nandi senator said.

According to the proposals presented to the House leadership by the 12-member committee, the legislators are divided down the middle.

The first proposal fronted by ‘Team Kenya’ provides for a eight-parameter formula, with the biggest weight placed on basis share (20 per cent), health (18 per cent) a, population (18 per cent) and agriculture (10 per cent).

The proposal scraps fiscal prudence and fiscal efforts as parameters for sharing revenue.

It recommends that Sh273 billion of the Sh316.5 billion allocated to the 47 counties in the budget be shared out equally.

It states that the remaining Sh53.5 billion be subjected to the parameters. It projects that in 2021-22, the Treasury would allocate the counties Sh325 billion, Sh331 billion in 2022-23 and Sh341 billion the next financial year.

The second proposal, on the other hand, which has received the backing of senators supporting the ‘One-man, One-shilling’ provides for 10 parameters.

It places the biggest weight on health (20 per cent) and basic share (20 per cent), population (16 per cent) and agriculture (12 per cent). Some 16 counties are losing more than Sh15 billion in this proposal.

However, in a policy brief seen by the Star last week, the Senate leadership has endorsed the second proposal albeit with a rider to defer its implementation by two years and cushion the ‘losing’ counties.

“The formula proposed by the Senate Finance committee be adopted as the new basis for allocating revenue to counties,” the brief reads in part.

It recommends that the formula be implemented in a phased manner to avoid disrupting county plans and budgets, and recommends a two-year moratorium.

In a bid to ensure revenue loses are minimised, the policy states if the proposal is adopted, no county should lose more than 10 per cent its previous allocations.

But Team Kenya has vowed to reject the decision, saying it cannot support a formula that takes away money from other counties.

“If it takes 20 or 30 times to get it right so be it. The one thing we will never negotiate is a situation where we will be called upon to apend our signatures to a formula that takes away from one county and gives to another,” Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua said.

Edited by EKibii