Embu ward reps debate revenue standoff

Temporary Speaker Sicily Warue (Nominated MCA) presiding over the Assembly Sitting. [Joseph Muchiri, Standard]

Ward reps raised the alarm over what they termed a plot by the National Assembly to starve counties of funds through a reduced budget allocation.

Speaking during a plenary sitting at the county assembly chambers, the leaders described the push to reduce budgetary allocation for counties as unconstitutional and bound to fail.

Led by Deputy Speaker Steve Simba, the ward reps said depriving counties of the much needed development funds was akin to deliberately sabotaging President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four agenda.

“The Big Four agenda’s main pillars of healthcare, agriculture, housing and industrialisation are all devolved functions,” said Mr Simba.

He questioned the logic behind retaining money at the national level when most of the country's development projects were in counties.

“Champions of devolution envisioned a situation where there would be more money channeled to grassroots for development than to national level for State luxury. Therefore, slashing of county funds is an affront to devolution," said the ward rep.

“The National Government should stick to advisory by the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) to allocate the 47 county governments Sh336 billion and end the row between the two Parliaments on Division of Revenue Bill,” he said.

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Ruguru Ngandori Ward Rep Muturi Mwombo said the counties' demand for more cash was constitutional. His Muminji counterpart Newton Kariuki wondered why the National Assembly was fighting the principle of division of revenue that was clear in law.

“The Government should not wait until senators, governors and ward reps take to the streets and file petitions in court to demand an allocation of funds that are constitutionally meant for the counties,” he said.

Evurore Ward Rep Duncan Mbui said the National Government had no option but to comply with the demands of the Senate, CRA, Council of Governors and County Assemblies Forum on the matter.

Makima Ward Rep Phillip Nzangi accused the National Assembly of being insecure.

"Governors and ward reps are already performing better in delivery of development at the grassroots. MPs have started feeling the heat. They should note that ward reps are not in competition with them,” he said.

Nthawa Ward Rep Nathan Mwari argued that the ongoing revenue division row arose because the country lacked a strong opposition to hold the Government to account.

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Speaker Sicily WarueCommission on Revenue Allocation