Showdown looms as Senate reconvenes to debate revenue sharing formula for the 7th time

Showdown looms as Senate reconvenes to debate revenue sharing formula for the 7th time
File image of the Senate of Kenya.

The Senate reconvenes on Tuesday, August 4, for the seventh time to try and broker a truce over the protracted county revenue sharing formula that has adversely affected service delivery in the 47 devolved units.

The Senate has on six previous instances failed to agree on a revenue sharing formula proposed by the Finance Committee chaired by Kirinyaga Senator Charles Kibiru, plunging counties in a near financial crisis.

On the eve of that critical house sitting, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani convened a virtual meeting that was attended by Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka, the majority leadership and Council of Governors to find ways of easing the county governments’ financial strain.

Treasury agreed to release upto Ksh.29 billion that was not disbursed in the last financial year to enable counties deal with urgent expenses such as June salaries, operational costs and purchase of medical consumables as the country battles the COVID-19 pandemic.

But there was no resolution on a proposal to release to counties 50% of their share in the 2020/2021 budget based on last financial year’s allocation. The Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) recommended that route should the Senate stalemate persist.

Intense lobbying is on, with the two opposing camps in the Senate working to keep their numbers intact and raid each other’s territory ahead of the crucial vote.

On the order paper is an amendment to the Finance Committee’s formula by Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja that seeks to use allocation to each county in the last financial year as a baseline for present and future share of the county share, and any increased resources be subject to a new formula.

Sakaja has been the subject of vilification for opposing a formula that would have allocated Nairobi and 27 counties more resources, while 19 counties would have had their share reduced.

Leaders from pastoralist communities have termed Finance Committee’s proposed formula a path for further marginalization.

Tharaka Nithi Senator Prof. Kithure Kindiki, who backs the Sakaja proposal, urged the House to shoot down the committee formula, terming it discriminatory.

Leaders from the populous counties have however defended the formula, insisting it would address past injustices in sharing of the county funds.

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