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MPs set to resume talks on counties’ revenue Wednesday

MPs during a session last week to resolve the counties’ cash crisis. Photo/MOSES MUOKI.

NAIROBI, Kenya Aug 26 – The 18-member bicameral committee established to unlock the revenue stalemate facing counties is on Wednesday set to resume talks after members failed to reach a consensus on the issue last week.

The second attempt by the members to seek a lasting solution over the cash row comes amid confusion and partial paralysis in some counties which are yet to pay their workers the July salary.

In Wednesday’s meeting, members will be keen to strike a compromise on the Division of Revenue 2019 Bill that has been a thorny issue for almost two months now, with both MPs and Senators maintaining hardline positions on how much money should be allocated to the devolved units.

In last week’s session, Senators argued that counties can be funded through slashing the budgetary allocations of the three arms of government.

National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale who is leading his colleagues in the talks noted that it would be a challenge to factor in the Executive, Judiciary and the Legislature’s budget allocations since the monies already allocated have been appropriated.

He observed that the validity of the argument would only be considered only if and when both clerks of the two chambers of Parliament, National Treasury and Judiciary’s Registrar are given a chance to have their input on the combative issue when invited to appear before the scheduled meeting.

“The Executive led by President Uhuru Kenyatta has been very clear on this matter that the resources are limited and that what has already been given to the counties should be first utilized but if they want more that can only be done through a supplementary budget,” Duale said.

The confrontational session which was heavily punctuated by counter-accusations ended in disarray, in what signaled deeper woes for counties which are already facing a serious cash crisis.

Last week, the Council of Governors Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya pleaded with the team to set aside their differences and resolve the issue that has seen MPs stuck at Sh316 billion, with Senators insisting that they will not take anything less than Sh335 billion.

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Oparanya said the close to two-month fall-out over the cash row if allowed to persist will lead to a total shut down of services in the counties even as he insisted that Governors are backing the implementation of allocation of Sh335 billion shareable revenue as recommended by the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA).

“We need this matter resolved immediately so that counties can be given money and continue with development projects which have been put on hold and also pay workers,” he said during a media briefing at the council’s headquarters at Delta House, Wastlands.

The second term Governor is expected to appear before this week’s session that is already time-bound, with members expected to reach a resolution before September 9 when the matter will be mentioned at the Supreme Court as directed by Chief Justice David Maraga.

While adjourning last week’s session, Vice Chairman of the Committee Senator Mohammed Mohamud (Mandera) urged members to go “prepared with an open mind in the second round of the talks.

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