Battle over county funds sharing moves to Senate

National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi. [File]

The battle over a formula for sharing of funds to the 47 counties now heads to the Senate as a majority of MPs push for its approval against opposition from some governors from arid and semi-arid counties.

Leaders from Kenya’s northern frontier counties have criticised the proposed revenue-sharing formula, terming it discriminatory and unfair.

Asal counties, with the backing of the Frontier Counties Development Council and the Pastoralists Parliamentary Group, have vowed to pursue change of the revenue allocation formula through a political process.

Led by Mandera Governor Ali Roba, the leaders have identified like-minded political leaders, to reject policies that negatively affect their region.

“CRA does not clearly give the basis of the parameters through which they reached the revenue-sharing formula,” said Roba.

He went on: “The Asal counties are going to lose close to Sh10 billion per year if the new formula is adopted. The 2018/2019 budget vis-a-vis 2019/2020 budget shows overall increase of 6.9 per cent.”

However, the senators have described the framework, known as “Third basis for equitable sharing of revenues among county governments’, drafted by the Commission on Revenue Allocation as proactive in achieving equality and justice in development in all counties.

Yesterday, senators Enock Wambua (Kitui), Ledama ole Kina (Narok), Moses Kajwang’ (Homa Bay) and Mutula Kilonzo Junior (Makueni) vowed to shoot down any proposal to reduce the funds allocated to counties.

This is after National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi asked the Senate to approve the proposed formula, terming it “just and fair”.

Mr Mbadi said it was unfair to use geographical area to determine how much a county should get, stating that population should be the main determinant in sharing out the money.

Kina argued that senators increased the budgetary allocation from Sh310 billion passed by the National Assembly to Sh390 billion, including conditional grants.

“We feel that the allocation is even less than 15 per cent of the total national revenue as stipulated in law. The Senate resolved to send more money to the counties and that’s my position. I am foreseeing the first government shutdown as a result of Treasury messing with our recommendations,” said Kina.

Kilonzo Jr argued that should there be any shortfall in the national revenue, the deficit should be absorbed by the national government and the allocation to the counties should not be touched.

“The Principle in Division of revenue is that any shortfall on revenue will be absorbed by the national government. The Bill the National Assembly passed has that clause. The Bill attempts to baseline after the fact in a rather tardy fashion,” said Kilonzo Jr.

“I will support Senate’s version of the Bill, which recommended a higher allocation to counties. This is consistent with the position we took in the Budget Policy Statement,” said Kajwang’.

If approved by the Senate, the formula by the CRA will be used to share revenue to counties, with Sh335.67 billion earmarked for the 47 counties in the 2019/2020 financial year.

“Some of the National Assembly members seems not to even understand the Bill they passed. If there is any shortfall in the national revenue, the deficit should be absorbed by the national government and if there is any surplus it’s the national government that will absorb,” said Wambua.

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Pastoralists Parliamentary GroupMoses Kajwang’National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi.National AssemblySenate