Resolve dispute over allocation of county funds to avert hiccups

The National Assembly resumes sittings tomorrow, in a week that promises action in light of other developments.

The Senate is set to table and push a motion on the Division of Revenue Bill 2019/2020 through the first, second and third readings on Tuesday. The Supreme Court will also give its advisory opinion in a case lodged by governors following the stalemate on the Division of Revenue Bill.

Ideally, House deliberations on the Division of Revenue Bill should have been concluded long before Treasury Cabinet Secretary presented the budget estimates for the 2019/2020 Financial Year in June, yet that did not happen.

Sadly, we are experiencing a repeat of what happened in 2017/2018 Financial Year after talks between senators and MPs collapsed. In itself, that compelled the National Assembly’s Budget and Appropriation Committee to make amendments, capping county allocations at Sh341 billion.

Though Senate is set to debate the revenue bill, the National Assembly also has an amended bill that proposes Sh316 billion, up from its earlier proposal of Sh310 billion. The Senate maintains counties should be allocated Sh335 billion. While the standoff ensues, activities across the counties, which include payment of salaries, paying contractors, procurement  and other things dependent on the availability of funds are at risk of grinding to a halt. The result will be a slowdown, if not total withdrawal of service delivery to taxpayers.

Reason must prevail, for at the end of the day, both Senate and the National Assembly serve the interests of the public. This being the case, the conclusion there is a supremacy battle between the houses when their services should be complementary is not farfetched.

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Devolution has come with benefits that people in different parts of the country could not imagine possible less than a decade ago. In particular, counties in areas previously considered marginalised have made great strides in development, thanks to devolution.

The dream and promise of devolution, then, should not be allowed to die just because elected leaders in the Senate and National Assembly have a point to prove, or an axe to grind.

It is the prayer of Kenyans that having considered both arguments, the Supreme Court’s advisory opinion will pave way for an amicable and acceptable settlement to the dispute.

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