Court stops controller of budget from releasing equalisation funds

Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o when she appeared before the Senate Standing committee Finance and Budget and Council of Governors to deliberate on the prompt payment bill at the County Hall,Nairobi on March 30, 2023. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

High Court has stopped the Controller of Budget (CoB) from authorising the release of equalisation funds meant for marginalised areas in a battle on sharing criteria of the 2022-2023 allocation.

Justice John Onyiego suspended a policy that dictates revenue sharing among marginalised areas until an application filed before him by four petitioners is heard. “Restraining order is hereby issued against the respondents from implementing the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) second policy and criteria 2022/2023 for sharing revenue amongst marginalised areas pending the hearing and determination of this application inter parties,’’ ruled Justice Onyiego.

He directed the CoB and Treasury not to authorise the withdrawal of equalisation funds. Sahal Mugow, Abdi Madow, Muhamud Mohamed and Kusow Degow filed the case. Through Duwane and Wethow Advocates, the four argue that the CRA board published the policy without public participation.

“The CRA did not carry out public participation in determining the revenue allocation criteria among the marginalised areas from the equalisation Fund,” lawyer Mohamed Duwane argued.

They have sued the Equalisation Fund board, CRA, CoB, the National Treasury and the Attorney General.

In the case, they accuse the board of discriminating against Wajir County.

The petitioners have cited Dadaja Bulla ward in Wajir South constituency. “The applicants are apprehensive that the respondents will soon proceed to implement the CRA Second Policy and Criteria for sharing revenue among marginalised areas unless the orders sought in the application are granted,” said Duwane. 

Basic amenities

The money, now at the centre of the court case is meant to run basic amenities such as health facilities, water, and electricity, to the poor and arid areas.

According to Kenya’s supreme law, at least 0.5 per cent of the most recent audited accounts of revenue received and approved by the National Assembly goes to the fund.  In the case, the judge heard that in the 2023 release, the seven wards in Wajir South are to receive at least Sh 277 million.

In the allocation, Benane ought to get Sh74.4 million, Burder (Sh31.1 million), Badaja (Sh 10.1 million), Diff (Sh31.3 million), Habaswein (Sh36.2 million), Ibrahim Ure (Sh42.9 million) and Lagboghol South, Sh51.2 million.

 The group led by Mugow state that the Sh10 million allocation is much lower than the other wards. They claim that the meagre allocation has been instigated by politics.   They further argue that the ward has been taken as one centre although it has six centres under it.

Justice Onyiego heard that Dadaja Bulla is a cross-border town that neighbours Somalia. The case will be mentioned on July 26.

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