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Uhuru's Sh50 billion pledge unlocks revenue formula stalemate

A 12-member committee tasked to come up with the best formula that takes into account additional funds.

In Summary

• The President induced a section of aggrieved senators who had vehemently opposed the controversial formula.

• Protracted standoff has seen the lawmakers fail in a record nine sittings to debate and vote on the formula to unlock the release of cash to the counties.

Senators Ledama ole Kina,Stewart Madzayo, Kipchumba Murkomen, Johnson Sakaja, Kithure Kindiki and Enoch Wambua outside the Senate on July 4, 2020
Senators Ledama ole Kina,Stewart Madzayo, Kipchumba Murkomen, Johnson Sakaja, Kithure Kindiki and Enoch Wambua outside the Senate on July 4, 2020
Image: EZEKIEL AMING'A

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s pledge to raise next year’s equitable shareable revenue by Sh50 billion on Tuesday unlocked the protracted formula stalemate.

The President induced a section of aggrieved senators who had vehemently opposed the controversial formula, causing a standoff and untold suffering in the counties.

"We have agreed to take the offer. But we have tasked the 12-member committee that has been working on this, to come up with the best formula taking into account the Sh50 billion," Laikipia Senator John Kinyua said.

 
 

Kinyua's assertions were shared by his Makueni counterpart Mutula Kilonzo.

"The committee will sit and harmonise the new figures. No county should lose," Mutula told the Star moments after an informal meeting (Kamukunji) of the leadership and members ended.

The committee is expected to come up with the best formula and present it during a Kamukunji on Monday. Senators will debate and vote on it on Tuesday.

The Star also established that the lawmakers agreed to retain last year's formula for sharing revenue until the next financial year when a new formula, factoring in the Sh50 billion addition, is passed.

The President pledged the colossal sum during a meeting with Senate leadership at State House, Nairobi. It was also attended by ODM boss Raila Odinga but conspicuously skipped by DP William Ruto.

“The meeting resolved that depending on the financial performance of the economy, the government will, in the next financial year (2021-22), endeavour to allocate an additional Sh50 billion to counties as part of efforts to strengthen devolution,” reads a statement sent to newsrooms by State House spokesperson Kanze Mararo.

The contentious third basis for sharing revenue among the counties had split the lawmakers down the middle, with those whose counties were set to ‘lose’ revenue in the proposed formula, vehemently rejecting it.

 
 

The protracted standoff has seen the lawmakers fail in a record nine sittings to debate and vote on the formula to unlock the release of cash to counties.

“With this undertaking, the President urged senators to urgently resolve the revenue-sharing stalemate at the Senate to avoid disruption of service delivery in the counties,” the statement reads.

The meeting, which was also attended by Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya, came barely hours before the Senate convened its 10th sitting to debate and vote on the controversial basis for sharing revenue.

Majority leader Samuel Poghisio (West Pokot), his Minority counterpart James Orengo (Siaya), Majority chief whip Irungu Kang'ata (Murang’a) and deputy Majority leader Fatuma Dullo (Isiolo) attended the meeting.

Also present were senators Beatrice Kwamboka (nominated) and Johnnes Mwaruma (Taita Taveta).

Yesterday, Senate proceedings were adjourned for more than one hour after Poghisio moved a motion to allow the leadership to brief the senators on its resolution after consulting the Executive.

“The 12-member committee that was formed to deliberate on this matter agreed and asked the leadership to go and meet with the executive. We have done that and we have a report,” Poghisio said as he moved the adjournment motion.

The senators, including those who had previously opposed the formula on claims that it would marginalise and disfranchise some 18 counties majorly from the arid and semi-arid, expressed their satisfaction with the President’s offer, noting that additional allocation “was the ultimate solution” to the stalemate.

“We are going on well in Kamukunji. We are in agreement with the leadership but I cannot go on record because the matter is coming up on the floor,” Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei said.

Senators’ indecisiveness has hurt service delivery in the 47 devolved units, which plunged them into a cash crisis.

Speaking separately at his Karen residence during a prayer meeting attended by Narok county religious and political leaders, the DP said the Jubilee administration was elected to serve both populous and non-populous counties without discrimination.

“When sharing revenue among counties, let us ensure those who lose do not lose by a big margin and those gaining should not gain by a big margin so that we can move forward together as a country,” he told the gathering, which included Senators Steve Lelegwe (Samburu), Mary Seneta (nominated) and Susan Kihika (Nakuru).

According to a policy brief seen by the Star last week, the Senate leadership had endorsed the formula that cuts allocation to 18 counties by Sh17 billion and that had been at the centre of the standoff. The proposal is fronted by the House Finance and Budget Committee chaired by Kirinyaga senator Charles Kibiru.

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

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

And to ensure revenue losses are minimised, the policy states if the proposal is adopted, no county should lose more than 10 per cent of its previous allocations.