Looming county shutdown as Senate rejects National Assembly’s figures, again

Looming county shutdown as Senate rejects National Assembly's figures, again
File image of the Senate in session. PHOTO| COURTESY

All 47 county governments are headed for tougher financial times, after the senate amended the Division of Revenue Bill republished by the National Assembly last month, and increased the proposed allocation to devolved units from Ksh.316.5 billion to Ksh.335.6 billion.

Senators struck out the Ksh.6.2 billion that was set aside for the controversial medical equipment leasing project insisting the allocation was a conduit for graft.

The senate is accusing the National Assembly of grandstanding, in the stalemate that has lasted two months.

“There is no level of government that gives the other money, we are sharing revenue paid in taxes by Kenyans… The council of governors must also know this,” said Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula.

“We are not asking for this money to be sent to governors, we are simply asking that money be given to devolved functions,” added Senator Ledama Ole Kina.

Senators were angered by the National Assembly’s decision to trash a parallel bill they passed last month, ostensibly to resuscitate the stalled revenue sharing process that has found its way to the supreme court.

“We treat this matter with the people on Kenya in mind, the country is in a paralysis for almost two months, counties are grinding to a halt, strikes have been called, senate must never be seen anywhere near the crisis,” said Senator Kithure Kindiki.

With the senate’s amendment to the bill, a dispute has been declared on the revenue division process for a second time and a mediation exercise involving representatives from the two houses will commence.

Should the two houses fail to strike a consensus like they did last month, the Division of Revenue Bill will be published yet again, further delaying disbursement of funds to counties.

Counties have been plunged into a financial quagmire and workers have threatened to down their tools next week, over delayed salaries.

That industrial action, if effected, will stall operations in counties and paralyse service delivery, even as the president insists his administration has no more money for counties.

The two chambers of parliament proceed on a month-long break on Thursday.

This means the division over revenue could drag on, unless the mediation panel settles on a consensus figure and special sittings of the bicameral parliament called to approve the agreed figures

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Story By Francis Gachuri
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