, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 10 – The Senate has amended the Division of Revenue Bill, and allocated an extra Sh7.7 billion to Counties. This followed a six-hour debate in a special sitting where the Senate Finance and Economic Affairs Committee proposed additional funding to certain votes they classified as underfunded.
If the National Assembly agrees with the Senate, counties will now receive Sh291.4 billion in the next financial year.
“We are leading this House in disagreeing with the National Assembly figure, we would like this House to support our amendment which is that it should move to Sh259 billion,” said Kakamega Senator Khalwale, who seconded the motion by committee chairman Billow Kerrow.
“Results are in; abstentions 1, no-0, ayes-31 – the ayes have it,” announced Deputy Speaker Kembi Gitura.
Among the amendments to the Bill is a Sh4 billion grant to counties to deal with emergencies, increase in allocations for level five hospitals to lease medical equipment and also a proposed increase in allocations for salaries for the County Executives.
“It has been the intention of the Senate to provide for adequate funding to the County governments so that we get improvements in service delivery, we get improvements in the maintenance of institutions and so that there is adequate money for development,” said Kerrow.
While moving the motion, Kerrow said they had resolved to increase the allocations because they had noted the challenges some counties were undergoing, some having been forced to dig into the money set aside for development to pay salaries and carry out operations.
While Senators noted the importance of funding the county Government, they expressed concerns over the misuse of the same resources calling for a proper audit to ensure prudent use of the funds.
“These governors don not want to account their spending to anyone—let not our cry for accountability be a ritual, we must make the governors accountable, our oversight committee chaired by Boni Khalwale should liaise with other oversight committees in the Counties and find a way of telling them to track the budgets and ensure they are implemented so that thefts are stopped,” said Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula.
His sentiments were reiterated by Taita -Taveta Senator Dan Mwazo who said Governors should know that additional allocation was not for them to go on trips abroad but to ensure service delivery to the people who elected them.
Kerrow noted that although the Senate was recommending that counties getting get more money, the Governors needed to make use of Local Revenue to offset some of their bills adding that for the two years the County Governments have been operational, the collected of local revenue had gone down.
“There is a serious problem of accountability particularly of the Local revenue that is collected, and we want to put the county governments on notice, the law is very clear, all the money that you collect must be swept into the County revenue Fund so that it is accounted for and appropriated in line with the PFM Act,” he said.
The Bill which must be implemented by April 30th will now be referred to the National Assembly which has the option of adopting the changes or dismissing them entirely.
If the National Assembly disregards the Senate’s amendments the scenario will require mediation to resolve the stand-off.