Battle over county revenue intensifies as MPs approve Ksh.316B


Battle over county revenue intensifies as MPs approve Ksh.316B
File image of the National Assembly in session. PHOTO| COURTESY

The National Assembly has passed the Division of Revenue Bill allocating Ksh.316 billion to the county governments in a move likely to worsen the ongoing feud between the two levels of government.

MPs went ahead to pass the bill on Thursday with an allocation of Ksh.316 billion despite the council of governors previously rejecting the amount and insisting on Ksh.335 billion.

The Bill was passed in the National Assembly just two days after the Senate passed its version of the Division of Revenue Bill allocating counties Ksh.335 billion.

Senators, through a vote, wanted the bill allocating Ksh.335 billion transmitted to the National Assembly for consideration.

And in the clearest signal that the revenue stalemate, which is already before the Supreme Court, is far from over, President Kenyatta on Thursday insisted that he will not give Governors a shilling more.

Speaking in Murang’a, the President waded in to the Division of Revenue Bill debate telling governors to use the money available, adding that they won’t see a coin more from the national government.

Huwezi kukula ile ambaye hujapanda. Tunataka county zetu zifanye kazi lakini ukienda uitishe pesa ambaye haiko itatoka wapi?” posed Mr. Kenyatta. (You can’t eat what you haven’t sowed. We want our counties to work but if you go and ask money that is not available, where will it come from?)

“We have given them what we have and what we know we can find.”

The Head of State was speaking at Kirwara Boys High School, Gatanga during the burial of former area MP Peter Kenneth’s mother Rahab Wambui.

Governors have accused the National Treasury of ignoring the Commission of Revenue Allocation’s recommendations on the sharing of revenue between the national government and the devolved units.

Last week, governors filed an application seeking an advisory from the Supreme Court on failure by Parliament to pass the Bill which they said has starved counties of funds.

Chief Justice David Maraga was however reluctant to hear application asking the parties to dialogue to help unlock the stalemate.

“We are reluctant to hear this case since it is legislative process. But we will hear it if we must,” said Maraga.

The bill collapsed following disagreements between the National Assembly and the Senate. The National Assembly wanted counties allocated Ksh.310 billion while the Senate insisted on Ksh.335 billion.

On Wednesday, the Senate passed their version and settled on Ksh.335 billion as the equitable shareable revenue for counties in the 2019/20 financial year.

The National Assembly on its part introduced a similar bill with a proposal to allocate Ksh.316 billion as funds for counties, 6 billion more than their earlier proposal.

Attempts at mediation failed after the National Assembly and Senate failed to agree on how much the counties should get.

National Assembly representatives in the mediation committee agreed on Ksh.316 billion but the Senate disagreed settling for Ksh.327 billion but later pulled an about turn and passed the Ksh.335 billion which had been recommended by the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA).

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Story By Benjamin Muriuki
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