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Senators in last-ditch bid to resolve impasse on sharing of county cash

By Rawlings Otieno and Roselyne Obala | Aug 13th 2019 | 3 min read
Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani will appear before the Senate to help resolve the Division of Revenue Bill crisis. [Standard]

Senate is making a last-ditch attempt to resolve the stalemate on county funds, even as the two Houses of Parliament prepare for mediation.

Senators have summoned acting Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani to seek a solution to the crisis over the Division of Revenue Bill.

Senate Deputy Speaker Kithure Kindiki (Tharaka/Nithi) directed that the CS meets with the Senate Finance committee, Controller of Budget (COB) and Council of Governors (CoG) to resolve the financial crisis facing the devolved units.

Although Yatani has already taken a hardline stance on Sh316.5 billion as equitable share to counties, senators have vowed to stick to Sh335 billion.

“I see no reason and no other superior duty that could be preventing the National Treasury CS and other relevant people, including the COB and the Attorney General from appearing before you in the shortest time possible,” said Kindiki in response raised by Finance Committee Chairman Mohammed Mahamud (Mandera) on the Division of Revenue Bill stalemate.

“To all the officers whom I have mentioned, be informed that on Tuesday (today), you are directed to suspend any other business and appear before the committee so that we can tell the country when the counties will start getting their monies. It is my view that we cannot have another end month without counties having monies in their banks.”

He argued that there might be need to make some resolutions to allow Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo to take certain measures so that whoever wants to take action against her is prohibited by the resolution of the House.

“We cannot have a country like this, running outside the law. On the issue of the Appropriations Act, which the national Government is using as an excuse, our position is that it is an unlawful legislation,” he said.

Kindiki said Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka, in consultation with the Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen and Minority Leader James Orengo, will discuss how to push the report forward.

“My suggestion is that we need a special sitting whereby we will discuss the recommendations and the findings that would be in that report tabled by the committee. The Committee on Finance and Budget should note that the country is looking up to them to unlock this stalemate,” said Kindiki.

Senators Mahamud, Ledama ole Kina (Narok), Margaret Kamar (Uasin Gishu), Moses Wetang'ula (Bungoma), Ochillo Ayacko (Migori) and Johnston Sakaja (Nairobi) expressed their displeasure over the stalemate, and vowed not to back down on their push for Sh335 billion.

“Counties are in a crisis because they cannot pay salaries. This state of affairs has been occasioned by the procrastination of the National Assembly, which believes that the mandate to deal with the budget is theirs and nobody else’s,” said Mahamud.

Ayacko argued that any law that creates such a situation "may only have been drafted by a fool".

Wetang'ula said the suggestion on vote on account pegged on the Sh316.5 billion agreed by Government is ideal.

Prof Kamar suggested that the committee should bring a Motion that urges Controller of Budget to exercise her discretion and authority to allow drawings on vote on account. [Rawlings Otieno and Roselyne Obala]

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