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Senators adopt mediated version of Sh316bn Revenue Bill

The Senate on session. Photo/CFM-FILE.

NAIROBI, Kenya Sep 11 – Senators on Wednesday adopted the mediated version of the Division of Revenue Bill 2019 that allocates counties a shareable revenue of Sh316 billion, with the contentious Bill getting the nod from 27 Senators against 3.

The approved version of the Bill will now be sent back to the National Assembly for concurrence before it is transmitted to President Uhuru Kenyatta for assent.

MPs are set to debate the Bill on Thursday with the legislators expected to give it a smooth sailing especially after they reaffirmed their position that counties deserved “nothing less than the allocated money which was Sh316 billion.”

Reports from Speaker Justin Muturi’s office indicate that the Bill is likely to be approved by Friday, a move that portends a silver lining for the devolved units who have been experiencing a cash crisis.

House Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen kicked off the debate on a somber note emphasizing that their concession was highly informed by the need to avert a looming crisis in counties.

“The national government does not have its own money that it donates to county governments, it does not have the responsibility of dictating to Parliament how much goes to what level of government,” he said.

He stressed that under the current dispensation of the new 2010 constitution, Senate had a solid mandate to defend counties in particular what allocation should be disbursed to the devolved units.

While reiterating that the Senate’s compromise was purely a tactical approach to allow counties operate devoid of any hitches, Minority Leader James Orengo cautioned that if the Senators yielded to pressure again in future over the same issue, then the Senate would have lost it.

“I am disappointed in how we retreated but this is a matter that we should draw lessons from. The government cannot appropriate before there has been a division of revenue between the two national levels of governments,” he said.

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He added: “If we lose the war in terms of this important legislation then in future things will happen the same way then we can say goodbye to devolution,” he said.

Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior faulted the National Treasury for being the main catalysts in the stalemate that had reignited supremacy wars between the two chambers of Parliament, accusing them of misleading both Houses through issuing contradictory information.

“Treasury has been playing Parliament so that we can clash, this has to come to an end,” he said.

Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja noted that the Senate’s input in the next Division of Revenue Bill for the next financial year should be taken seriously insisting that the Senate is constitutionally obliged to have a role in what counties should be allocated.

“We have not lost the war; the battle might have been lost but we are still on course. We want to tell those who are keen to kill devolution that they should wake up and smell the coffee because this constitution guarantees physical decentralization and devolution and what we give to counties is not a favour,” he said.

While expressing his reservations on how the Senate yielded to pressure, Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula challenged his colleagues to stand firm next time in the event of a future stalemate between them and MPs, warning that such concessions amounted to more criticisms from the opponents of the Senate.

“Senate is behaving like the small coward in the market who instead of facing a fight cries that hold me before I kill this man. We went to mediation and the National Assembly literally bullied us out of the way. I feel very sad that we have come this low,” he said.

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