, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 11 – President Uhuru Kenyatta assented to the controversial Division of Revenue Bill on Tuesday, prompting the Senate to adjourn its sittings to go into a closed session to discuss his move.
When they came out of the session, the senators said they would move to the Supreme Court seeking to nullify Kenyatta’s assent to the law.
The president defended his decision saying he acted strictly within the law, in pursuance of the national interest and with a view to safeguarding the integrity and timeliness of the budgetary process.
“In the aftermath of the stalemate between the two Houses of Parliament, the options of the Executive under the law are limited to not acting at all, vetoing the Bill or assenting to the Bill. The option of not acting at all would not help the situation as the Bill would become law after 14 days; while vetoing the Bill would similarly have led to further delays in the budgetary process.”
He argued that in the circumstances, the most prudent course of action was to assent to the Bill in order to facilitate the timely conclusion of the budgetary process and avert the risk of bringing government business to a halt.
“Moreover, by not signing the Bill, we would have severely compromised the ability of county governments to take off in the very first year.”
Kenyatta reiterated his commitment to the success of the bicameral legislature and said he would commence consultations with the National Assembly, the Senate and other stakeholders in order to facilitate the speedy conclusion of the debate and arrive at a mutually agreeable way forward that was in the national interest.
“Contrary to claims that have been made by some political leaders, my assent to the Division of Revenue Bill 2013 does not in any way undermine the devolution process. Indeed, the Bill I assented to was voted by the entire membership of the National Assembly which comprises all parliamentarians – not just the government side.”
Siaya Senator James Orengo said the implication of the president giving life to the revenue law was that the Senate was deemed redundant.
But, Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen had harsher words for his coalition leader, as he expressed fear that history was repeating itself, alleging a plot to cripple the Senate and have it wound up.
“We have no business being senators if we have no business to do with allocation of resources to our counties. It is a deliberate scheme and a conspiracy of other institutions to ensure that the Senate is discarded,” said Murkomen.
The National Assembly and the Treasury had agreed on Sh210 billion, but the Senate added an extra Sh48 billion to ensure delivery of services in counties was not affected once the national government stops providing for them.
However, when the Bill came back to the National Assembly, MPs ignored the senators’ input and retained the initial Sh210 billion, leading to the conflict.
The chairman of the Council of Governors Isaac Ruto and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga had also appealed to the president to refer the matter to a mediation committee.
Ruto expressed fear that without the extra Sh48 billion, some 18 counties would suffer in delivery of service.
The law determines financial allocations between the national government and the 47 county governments, and is the first step to help the counties know how much money they will get from July 1 when the next fiscal year begins.