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Governors, State talks on county cash collapse

NEWS
By Roselyn Obala and Paul Ogemba | Aug 2nd 2019 | 2 min read

The Government has insisted on its Sh316 billion offer for the counties, dashing hopes of a deal with governors.

On Wednesday evening, governors met Treasury officials, led by acting CS Ukur Yatani, and thereafter went into another meeting in Parliament with Speakers Justin Muturi (National Assembly) and Ken Lusaka (Senate).

Council of Governors (CoG) chairman Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), his deputy Mwangi Wa Iria (Murang’a), governors Alfred Mutua (Machakos) and Stephen Sang (Nandi) emerged from the two meetings to announce that good progress had been made to end the budget allocation standoff.

The dispute revolves around division of revenue between the national and county governments.

Rejected offer

The governors have rejected the National Assembly’s offer of Sh316 billion for counties, which is backed by Treasury. Senate has approved Sh335 billion, while a mediation committee settled on Sh327 billion.

Oparanya said although no figure had been agreed, all the parties involved were “softening.”

“They are no longer taking hard-line positions,” he said.

However, Mr Yatani said the position of Treasury had not changed and ruled out further talks with the governors on the matter.

The talks on Wednesday were prompted by the advisory by Supreme Court judges, who referred the dispute to Parliament.

Five Judges of the apex court gave Senate and the National Assembly one more chance to unlock the stalemate, giving the two Speakers 14 days to file a response on the status of their talks.

“We are cognizant of the impending constitutional crisis created by the dispute, but being alive to the need for separation of powers, we urge the two Houses to resolve the issue amicably,” said Chief Justice David Maraga.

Justices Maraga, Mohammed Ibrahim, Smokin Wanjala, Njoki Ndung’u and Isaac Lenaola set August 15 for hearing of the dispute should the two Houses fail to agree.

The National Assembly, through lawyer Peter Kaluma, had asked the court for 45 days to publish and debate a new Division of Revenue Bill.

But the governors, through lawyer Fred Ngatia, insisted that the hearing should proceed because mediation talks had failed. Ngatia told the judges that the fate of devolution was in their hands.

 

Senate support

Senate supported the application by governors that the case proceeds, arguing that it would not hold any more mediation talks with the National Assembly on the matter.

Commission for Revenue Allocation, through lawyer Kamotho Waiganjo, argued that the country was in a crisis after failure by the two Houses to agree. He implored the Supreme Court to issue an advisory opinion.

Solicitor General Mohammed Nyaoga called for a show of goodwill between the two Houses in debating the Division of Revenue Bill.

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