County governments could remain in the doldrums after the National Assembly and Senate differed on the commencement date of the Division of Revenue (DoR) Bill should the President give assent to it.
In what appears to be a ping-pong game between the two Houses of Parliament, both could be headed for another round of mediation after the National Assembly passed the Bill with the clause that it should be backdated to July 1 while senators want it effected immediately after the presidential assent.
This means that the 47 devolved units will be without cash from equitable shareable revenue, which has been the case for the past two months.
Senators accused the National Assembly of conmanship, and being inconsiderate to the plight of Kenyans who are facing financial crunch.
“They have sneaked what we did not agree on in our mediation talks that the commencement date be backdated to July 1. They have become rogue,” Senate Finance and Budget Committee Chair Mohammed Mahamud said.
He further explained that there were only two issues on the mediation table and backdating the commencement date was not one of them.
“We had only two issues on the meditation table; the Sh6 billion Medical Leased Equipment and Sh316 billion County Allocation. The issue of backdating the commencement date was not one of them,” added Mahamud.
The senators feel that what was agreed in the mediation committee is not what was presented in the National Assembly, since it did not have the component of the commencement date should the Bill be assented to.
However, according to Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jrn, who was also a member of the meditation committee, the National Assembly sneaked and inserted the date by “handwriting” in the new Bill.
Mutula said the National Assembly's action is meant to legitimise the Appropriation Act 2019, which is being contested by senators in the Supreme Court. The Appropriations Act allows the Government to withdraw money and spend on various projects and remuneration, a situation senators argue was done illegally in the absence of the Division of Revenue Bill, 2019.
“You cannot bring an issue which was not in the meditation. You cannot regularise Appropriation Act 2019 by backdating it. This means that we will have to go another mediation talk on the commencement date,” said Mutula.
He further explained that the law requires that an Appropriation Bill is debated and signed into law after the passage of the Division of Revenue (DoR) Bill in both Houses.
But Kitui Central MP Makali Mulu has defended his colleagues saying that they had been advised to backdate the Bill to July 1 to allow counties to receive their monies as scheduled.
Mr Mulu insisted that the National Treasury releases monies to pay service providers and county workers arrears for July and August the counties.
“You know the financial year starts in July. What we did was to cushion ourselves in law so that when National Treasury releases monies for July, there is a legal framework. If we don’t do that, then any monies released between July and September will have a lacuna in law as it will not be protected by any legislation,” said Mulu.
In defending his argument, Mulu asked: “If you say effective date should commence immediately after assent, then what will do to July and August monies that is yet to be released to counties?”
Senator will tomorrow introduce for the first reading the County Allocation of Revenue Bill which shows the schedules and equitable revenue shared.
Senators passed the DOR Bill last Wednesday, a day before their counterparts in National Assembly passed it.
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