NAIROBI, Kenya Aug 17 – An 18-member team constituted to mediate the revenue division standoff between the Senate and the National Assembly will hold its first meeting next week Tuesday.
The mediation team comprises of nine members from either House of Parliament.
National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale told Capital FM News on Saturday that the talks will commence at 11 am.
This is the second attempt by the two Houses of Parliament to try and reach a consensus on the Division of Revenue Bill 2019 after the first round of talks flopped.
The formation of the committee was precipitated by a Supreme Court ruling delivered by Chief Justice David Maraga on Thursday who maintained that the court was willing to pronounce itself on the matter but advised that the bicameral House of Parliament should first exhaust its constitutional avenues in resolving the standoff that has since affected the delivery of crucial functions in county.
Maraga specifically directed Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka to pick a mediation team that would steer the talks.
The National Assembly team comprises of Duale, John Mbadi (Suba), Kimani Ichung’wa (Kikuyu), Cecily Mbarire (Nominated), Junet Mohammed (Suna East), David ole Sankok (Nominated), Mishi Mboko (Likoni) and Amos Kimunya (Kipipiri).
The Senate will be represented by its Finance committee Chairperson Mohammed Mohamud, Johnstone Sakaja (Nairobi), Ledama ole Kina (Narok), Mutula Kilonzo (Makueni), Charles Kabiru (Kirinyaga), Margret Kamar (Uasin-Gishu) Mithika Linturi (Meru), Okong’o Omogeni (Nyamira), Makali Mulu (Kitui Central) and Rose Nyamunga (Nominated).
Following the ruling, Maraga ordered that a report on the progress to avert a total paralysis in the counties should be ready by September 16 when the matter would be coming up for mentioning.
But even as the lawmakers gear up for the talks, the cash crisis in counties is seemingly far from over particularly after the Attorney General Kihara Kariuki in his advisory opinion on Friday declined to okay the release of 50 percent of funds for the Financial Year 2019/2020 allocated to counties noting the move had no legal backing.
Senators had petitioned Kariuki to weigh in on the matter after the National Treasury proposed that counties can be given access to 50 percent of the funds of their share to allow them carry out their day-to-day operations, notably paying of salaries to the county workers.
The National Treasury had proposed the release of Sh155 billion representing 50 per cent of the funding due to counties from the Consolidated Fund.
In his response to the Senate Clerk Jeremiah Nyegenye copied to the Acting National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani, House Speakers Justin Muturi and Lusaka, Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo and the Solicitor General Ken Ogeto, Kariuki noted that a consensus between the MPs and the Senators would be the perfect way to unlock the standoff.
Calls to have the standoff resolved cordially continue to intensify each passing day with the Deputy President William Ruto on Friday yet again urging the legislators to fast-track talks in ending the stalemate surrounding this year’s Division of Revenue Bill in order to allow the release of funds to the counties.
He reiterated the government had limited resources hence could not advance the demands by counties for an increased allocation.
The National Assembly is stuck on the proposal that the devolved units should be allocated Sh316.5 billion of the shareable revenue while the Senate insists that it should be given Sh335.6 billion.
The Council of Governors through its chair Wycliffe Oparanya continues to express its displeasure with the snail-paced nature of resolving the stalemate that he notes has seen development stall in majority of the counties.