• Osotsi wants equal sharing of the funds among the 47 counties
Vihiga Senator Godfrey Osotsi wants the Equalisation Fund Bill 2022 to be reviewed so it won’t affect small and highly populated devolved units like Vihiga county.
The bill is currently in the National Assembly, at the stage of collecting views from the public.
“I have read the bill and as Vihiga senator, I oppose it and ask that it be drafted afresh,” Osotsi said.
“If the bill is passed as it is, 36 counties qualify for the fund, locking out 11 others. And our county is among those they say are better off in terms of development, which is totally wrong,” he said.
He said Vihiga also deserves to be enlisted as a deserving county and eligible for the Equalisation Funds.
Initially, the Commission on Revenue Allocation had identified 14 counties from Arid and Semi-Arid Land (Asal) areas to benefit from the kitty.
Asal counties governors had accused the government of using the funds to support non-Asal counties, saying the funds were meant to support the Asal counties mainly during the drought.
They included Garissa, Mandera, Wajir, Marsabit, Turkana, Isiolo Samburu, West Pokot, Narok, Kwale, Kilifi, Taita Taveta, Tana River and Lamu.
The fund has since been expanded to cover areas considered marginalised, hence extending up to 36 counties, while locking out 11 others.
The kitty was established back in 2013 to cushion marginalised areas, but it has been lying idle at the Treasury for the past nine years due to delays in the formulation of guidelines, late project identification and legislative hurdles.
The Equalisation Fund Bill (National Assembly Bill No. 47 of 2022) is sponsored by Tiaty MP Kassait Kamket.
The first reading was on November 30, 2022, and was committed to the Departmental Committee on Finance and National Planning for review and reporting to the House.
The principal objective of the Bill is to operationalise the equalisation fund as established under Article 204 of the Constitution.
The Equalisation Fund Bill 2022 is meant for pastoral persons and communities, whether they are nomadic or a settled community.
Each beneficiary is selected on the understanding that it has, because of its relative geographic isolation, experienced only marginal participation in the integrated social and economic life of Kenya as a whole.
The bill further states that the Equalisation Fund shall comprise a Fund that is one-half per cent of all revenue collected by the national government each year calculated on the basis of the most recent audited accounts of revenue received, as approved by the National Assembly.
Osotsi wants equal sharing of the funds among the 47 counties, contrary to the bill's proposals.
“The bill as it is unfair to Vihiga. I want the process stopped and due diligence done to all counties,” the lawmaker said.
Osotsi further opposed the formula used to pick board members, citing its lack of diversity.
“We want the board to represent the entire nation and not just a few counties,” he said.
“The billions of shillings are meant to provide basic services, including water, roads, health facilities and electricity in marginalised areas to the level generally enjoyed by the rest of the country.
“There are places like on the hills in South Maragoli, Jepkoyai, which have no water and other amenities. It's unfair to us. We won’t agree to this,” the lawmaker said.
In the current financial year ending June 30, Sh13.18 billion has been allocated to the Equalisation Fund through the County Governments Additional Allocations Bill.