NAIROBI, Kenya, May 26 – Attempts to resolve the Division of Revenue Bill stalemate have failed once again after members of the mediation committee maintained their hard-line positions.
According to a source within the committee, the Parliamentary Budget Committee has since intervened in the stalemate and proposed that the disputed Sh7.7 billion proposed by the Senate be reduced to Sh3.3 billion.
“Tomorrow is the deadline and it’s the last attempt. If we don’t agree the Bill flops and we enter into a government crisis,” said the member who wished to remain anonymous.
The mediation committee which held a six-hour meeting Tuesday will meet Wednesday to now consider the Sh3.3 billion proposed by the budget committee to cater for allocations to Level 5 hospitals and the additional salaries for County Executives.
Among the amendments to the Bill was 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 appears the Sh4 billion for the emergency grant has been sacrificed due to the fact that questions had been raised over what the fund would be used for as MPs had indicated that unless there was a law to define an emergency, then the funds would be misused by Governors.
The Senate representatives who seemingly put up a good fight said they were not going to rubber-stamp on suggestions by other institutions yet they (Senate) was the body mandated with looking at the interests of counties.
“IBEC (Inter-Governmental Budget and Economic Council) and others just thought we would adopt their proposals yet they do not the issues faced by counties,” he added.
The two Houses of Parliament have however been engaged in supremacy wars with each seeking to show that it has the upper hand over the other and the standoff over the Division of Revenue Bill is one such opportunity for the two to ‘claw back’ back at each other.
Earlier in the day, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Billow Kerrow expressed hope that an agreement would be reached by the Mutava Musyimi led mediation committee to prevent a delay in disbursement of funds.
“I have the sense that they will agree on the numbers. We have justifiable reason of money that belongs to county government being held in national government and I think that money has to be given out.”
“If they don’t agree today we will call off the thing, and there will be no Bill and all processes have to be re-started and the National government will be forced to bail out the Counties,” said Kerrow.
He echoed the sentiments of CRA Chairman Micah Cheserem who had warned of a financial crisis if the current standoff was not resolved.
If the National Assembly and the Senate fail to agree on the proposed amount, the law will lapse and can only be re-introduced to Parliament after six months.
During this period counties will be forced to get money on account, meaning they can only be given money for the most crucial functions as the new Bill is being prepared.