NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 3 – The Senate emerged losers in the fight to allocate Sh287 billion to the counties as the National Assembly slashed the upper House budget and those of other government agencies in order to meet provisions of the mediated Division of Revenue Bill.
National Budget and Appropriations Committee Chairman Mutava Musyimi and House Majority Leader Aden Duale had cautioned that the MPs will have to make cuts to the Senate, National Executive, and the Judiciary budgets in order to raise an extra Sh3.3 billion the Senate had proposed for Level 5 Hospitals (Sh1.5billion) and additional salaries for the County Governments (Sh1.7billion).
The National Assembly slashed the recurrent allocations amounting to Sh1 billion from the Senate Affairs Programme, Sh800 million from the Judiciary. The Salaries Remuneration Commission lost Sh200 million.
“Until yesterday (Tuesday), this money was going to be set aside hosted by the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) awaiting the enactment of enabling framework to enable the Senate use this money for the purpose of oversighting at the counties. All that has changed and we are asking that this money now be taken away to the counties.”
The National Treasury was also not spared the MPs blade as Sh325 million earmarked for the IFMIS programme, Sh1 billion meant for human resource reforms temporary employers and defined contributory scheme programmes respectively.
The Senate on Thursday approved the mediated version of the Division of Revenue Bill after the National Assembly gave in to their demands to increase the allocation to counties by Sh3.3 billion bringing the total shareable revenue to Sh287 billion.
MPs recommended the chairpersons of the National Assembly Committee on Budget and Appropriations, National Assembly Committee on Finance be included to seat in the Inter Governmental Budget and Economic Council (IBEC) as a way of avoiding future wrangles in coming with the Division of Revenue (DoR) Bill.
IBEC is an inter-governmental body chaired by the Deputy President and brings together the 47 county governors and their County Finance Executives.
“It is my humble submission that this forum which is an upfront forum for negotiations, is the one that made the drafters of our Constitution probably relax, perhaps naively, that the possibility of the DoR collapsing is out of the question.”
“If work has been done by others, we need to eat humble pie and find ways of contributing to those discussions in a manner that does not set the country in the place we are right now, where everyone is waiting to see whether we shall support this mediation report or not,” Mutava said.
Mutava said the Committee will be presenting an amendment to the Public Finance Management Act to ensure both county and government can access funds approved through Budget Policy Statement to avoid the current situation where both governments stood to lose if the mediated version of the Bill was not approved.
The House have had to wait for six months before re-introducing the crucial money bill in Parliament for debate and approval.
In supporting the Mutava Committee’s recommendation, Duale challenged his colleagues in the Upper House to do more to ensure the funds to the counties are prudently spent.
“You can give Sh3.3 billion or S287 billion with one hand, but please use the other hand to follow whether those funds is used prudently.”
“We want our Senators to walk from their Chamber and go to Siaya, Kitui, Homa Bay, Garissa, and Muranga and ask if the Sh190 billion, we gave to the county government in 2013/14, Sh230 billion we gave in 2014/15, and what we are giving today, is it felt on the ground, is there value on the people of Kenya in the county government,” Duale said.
The Bill plays a critical role in the budget-making process at both the National and County Governments and if the Bill is not passed by both Houses as per the law, the planning will be greatly affected.
The County Allocation of Revenue Bill cannot be passed by the Senate since its approval is based on the Division of Revenue Act.