NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 5 – The Senate has accepted a Sh316.5 billion allocation for counties proposed in the revised 2019 Division of Revenue Bill, despite expressing reservations on the enactment of the Appropriation Act (2019) without its concurrence.
Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen and his Minority counterpart James Orengo however vowed to sustain their petition challenging the Appropriation Act (2019).
“As you are aware that the Division of Revenue forms the basis upon which the two levels of government prepare legal instruments for public expenditure. The National Assembly proceeded to publish, consider and pass an Appropriation Act setting up expenditure for National Government. Therefore, as the counties are headed to a halt sooner rather than later, the national government has continued to operate unobstructed,” Orengo said on Thursday.
“It is a position of the Senate that, it is a flagrant violation of the constitution for the National Assembly and the National Government to proceed unilaterally to determine the allocation to the national government independent of the enactment of Division of Revenue Act. By passing the Appropriation Act (2019) the National Assembly unlawfully and unconstitutionally allocated to the national government a share of revenue raised nationally without a determination of what that share should be and without an attendant allocation to the counties.”
On his part, Murkomen stated that the Division of Revenue Bill stalemate has threatened to paralyze operations in counties, prompting the Senate to accept the National Assembly’s offer.
“The Senate following a meeting that was held today(Thursday) has made a painful but a patriotic decision to advise our negotiators in the ongoing mediation process to agree to the allocation of the 316.5 billion shillings as the equitable share of the nationally raised revenue to be allocated to the counties. This has been a very difficult decision for the senate, but we have been faced with situation where we had to rise to the calling and put overall national interest above short term partisan considerations,” Murkomen said.
The National Assembly agreed to revise the allocation from an earlier Sh310 billion after the Senate and Council of Governors demanded for Sh335 billion, a benchmark set by Controller of Budget and Commission on Revenue Allocation.
Counties have since been seeking an allocation of Sh335 billion for the 2019/20 Financial Year but the national government through the national assembly insisted on Sh316.5 billion a disagreement that saw a case filed at the supreme court.
After a back and forth between the two Houses, Supreme Court directed Senate to appoint a mediation team to meet with National Assembly’s team to resolve the revenue row by September 16.
A mediation team of 18 members, 9 from each House of Parliament was formed but a consensus has not been reached.
The proceedings of the bicameral team, from the onset, were characterized by counter accusations with National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale who led his colleagues from the House protesting the constitution of the agenda which had lined up the election of the committee Chairperson and Vice Chairperson as a priority.
Senators had made it clear that they will not take anything less than Sh335 billion as sharable revenue allocation to be dispersed to counties with Narok Senator Ledama Ole Kina proposing that all the three arms of government should cut down on their allocated expenditure and help foot the funds needed by the counties.
President Uhuru Kenyatta had on two different occasions called upon the Members of the National Assembly and Senators to end the stalemate asking the legislators in the Senate to accept the Sh316 billion already allocated to the counties insisting that national government resources are limited.