Senate to begin debate on disputed revenue bill

Senate during a past sitting in 2017. [File, Standard]
Senate will tomorrow start debating the new Division of Revenue Bill 2019, even as attention turns to the Supreme Court which is expected to give direction on the matter.

The highest court in the land is expected to give direction on how a case filed by governors, on the bill, will proceed tomorrow when the parties appear before the Chief Justice David Maraga-led court.

The Council of Governors filed a petition last week seeking the apex court’s advisory opinion on how the 47 counties should share revenue from the national government and resolve the perennial superiority conflict between Senate and National Assembly over budgetary allocation to counties.

In the bill that was tabled on Thursday last week, Senators want counties allocated Sh335 billion, escalating the feud with the National Assembly that insists on Sh316 billion.

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The bill tabled in Senate puts the county equitable share at Sh335.6 billion equivalent to 32.3 per cent of the percentage of the 2014-15 audited and approved revenue of Sh1,038 trillion.

“The county government’s equitable share of revenue in the financial year 2019-20 amount to Sh335.67 billion. This allocation represents a 32.3 per cent of the latest audited revenues for FY 2014-15 Sh1, 038 trillion,” reads part of the new bill.

On Thursday, Senate Majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen moved a procedural motion to shorten the publication period of the Division of Revenue Bill from seven days to one day to allow them to debate the bill on Tuesday.

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While moving the motion, Murkomen said it was wrong for the National government to appropriate resources that they do not have, adding that national government has no resources that it can appropriate for themselves.

“There must be no other responsibility on Tuesday other than to deliberate, debate the Division of Revenue Bill even if we shall complete by midnight,” said Murkomen.

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He went on: “The bill on appropriation passed by National Assembly is null and void. You cannot appropriate resources and funds that you do not have. No one can silence the voice of the Senate.”

Senate wants additional conditional allocation for level five hospitals of Sh4.3 billion given to the counties as well as the conditional allocation of Sh900 million to compensate county health facilities for forgone user fees.

The bill provides for the equitable division of revenue raised nationally among the national and county levels of government as required by Article 218 of the Constitution to facilitate the proper functioning of county governments and to ensure continuity of county services.

The bill proposes to allocate county governments Sh391.07 billion in the 2019-20 financial year.

The allocation comprises of an equitable share of Sh335.67 billion, additional conditional allocations from the share of National government revenue amounting to Sh7.71 billion, with Sh8.98 billion being 15 per cent of Road Maintenance Levy Fund (RMLF) collections.

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The county governments equitable share of revenue raised nationally for the financial year 2019-20 is arrived at by growing the base allocation of county governments equitable share for the financial year 2018-19 of Sh314 billion by Sh21.67 billion.

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SenateDivision of Revenue Bill 2019Revenue sharing