Yet again, the Division of Revenue Bill stands out as a sticky issue between the National Assembly and the Senate.
While the bicameral Parliament has until tomorrow to pass the Bill; in effect allowing Cabinet Secretary for Treasury Henry Rotich to present Budget estimates for the financial year 2019/2020, the mediation committee in the stand-off is yet to make progress.
This should worry Kenyans a great deal.
There were long-drawn-out negotiations between the Senate and National Assembly over the Division of Revenue Bill 2017/2018, necessitating the setting up of a mediation committee as well.
The Bill collapsed. Thus, the National Assembly’s Budget and Appropriation Committee was compelled to make amendments and cap the county allocation at Sh341 billion.
But while that stand-off should have alerted Senators and Members of Parliament of inherent dangers in not passing the Bill, it has failed to guide their deliberations.
Rather than serve public interest, it would seem supremacy battles between the Senate and the National Assembly are at play.
This is evident in the cavalier attitude the two houses exhibit even when it is apparent to all what paralysis attends failure to pass the Revenue Bill 2019 by tomorrow.
Sense must prevail to allow the dream of devolution bear maximum fruits. It is perhaps because Senators have heeded calls for an upward adjustment in county allocations that they advocate for Sh327 billion as opposed to Sh316 billion that the National Assembly is comfortable with.
Indeed, the need for increased funding is apparent.
Medical staff strikes in various counties have been occasioned by the county governments’ inability to meet the financial demands of doctors and nurses.
Besieged governors have often pleaded with the Treasury to remit additional funds to help them sort out debilitating strikes.
For the simple reason that the County Allocation Bill is ineffective without the Division of Revenue Bill, it is an imperative that legislators conclusively and expeditiously deal with issues hampering its passage.
The risk that county governments’ operations could grind to a halt because legislators cannot agree on some legislation is not an option.
A way out of the stand-off must be found to make it possible to have funds released in good time.
This will allow counties take care of their numerous financial obligations including salaries, off-setting debts, procurement and other operational costs without which nothing would move.
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