Governors disagree with lawmakers over Equalisation Fund Bill

The National Assembly during one of the sessions. For the past nine years, more than Sh18 billion meant for the provision of such services under the equalisation fund has been lying idle at Treasury due to legislative hurdles. [Elvi Ogina, tandard]

Governors and MPs are at loggerheads over an amendment the county bosses say is clawing back on progress made in the laws guiding distribution of funds to the devolved units.

The Council of Governors (CoG) wants the National Assembly to withdraw the Equalisation Fund Bill, 2022, terming it unconstitutional.

"The Council of Governors objects to the Bill in its entirety for reasons that it is fundamentally flawed as it fails to conform to the High Court Judgment, the devolved structure of governance and the Equalisation Fund Regulations, 2021," said COG Deputy Chairperson and Wajir Governor Ahmed Abdullahi.

The Constitution states that the national government shall use the Equalisation Fund only to provide basic services including water, roads, health facilities and electricity to marginalised areas to the extent necessary to bring the quality of those services in those areas to the level generally enjoyed by the rest of the nation.

For the past nine years, more than Sh18 billion meant for the provision of such services under the equalisation fund has been lying idle at Treasury due to legislative hurdles.

According to CoG, the Bill before Parliament fails to provide for county representation in the fund's board of management. It also took issue with the proposal that the fund can only be disbursed by the National Government through the respective and affected county governments and in accordance with recommendations made by the Commission on Revenue Allocation as approved by Parliament.

"The council is concerned that the delay in disbursement and utilisation of the fund has failed to achieve the intended purpose of the Fund," said Abdullahi.

The Wajir governor said despite the pronouncement by the High Court, the Bill before the House is the same one that was tabled for consideration by Parliament in 2019.

As of yesterday, the council noted that only 23 counties had received their October equitable share allocation with no county having received November and December allocations.

"For this reason, counties are unable to pay staff salaries. Counties are also unable to honour other financial obligations," said Abdullahi.

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