Unless Uhuru is lying, governors should take the money and run

As expected, Members of Parliament did not disappoint during the Tuesday session convened to find a solution to the county funds stalemate. The shouting and flexing of muscles that led to postponement of the meeting could have been an enthralling drama were it not for the suffering the cash crunch is causing ordinary citizens.

From the look of things, it will take longer for the deadlock to be resolved. It is now upon governors to realise that it is their people who will continue to suffer if the standoff drags on—and that doesn’t give them assurance they will get the money they want.

As we have pointed out here before, the Sh19 billion being fought over by the two houses and the two levels of government is not substantial enough to warrant such ugly furore. It is an amount the counties can do without in the meantime.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has said several times that his government doesn’t have extra money to give to counties. Since he understands the national treasury well, we have no reason to doubt him.

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In fact, it does not take an accounting genius to tell that the country is running on a shoe string. Not once, not twice, this newspaper has reported that the Government’s debt burden is slowly getting out of hand. There even have been reports that the Treasury has borrowed money, not for development, but to pay off other debts. That should have been the cue for the county bosses to take what is on offer.

And if they did so, that would not have been the end of the world. During his speech at the Nakuru County Assembly recently, the President pleaded with the counties to take the Sh316 billion and promised that more money would be channeled to the counties when it becomes available. Unlessgovernors have contrary evidence, there is no reason to suggest Uhuru was lying.

What the governors should do is push for a supplementary budget in future so that more cash can be taken to the counties.

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To stick to their guns and insist they will only accept the Sh335 billion is to be unrealistic and to needlessly entrench the suffering of their subjects. They have the opportunity to save their people from more suffering by accepting the current offer.

It would be meaningless for counties to get the Sh335 billion after a month or so of tussling as many lives and livelihoods would have been destroyed. That would be Pyrrhic victory. Governors would have won the battle but lost the war.

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President Uhuru KenyattaGovernorsRevenue Bill