Kakamega Governor urges MPs to re-look finance bill

Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa (left) in a meeting at his office in Kakamega with legislators Innocent Obiri (Bobasi), Martin Wanyonyi (Webuye East), and Benjamin Gathiru (Embakasi Central). [Mike Kihaki, Standard]

Members of Parliament have been persuaded to reconsider the Finance Bill 2023 that was tabled before the house last week for the benefit of the citizens.

The Bill which was tabled by Lurambi legislator Titus Khamala proposed various taxation measures enacted into law which include the exemption of liquefied petroleum gas LPG from Value Added Tax and Levies and fast-tracking of the tax refund process.

This means a sharp decrease in the price of clean fuel as the products will be exempted from 8 per cent VAT, 3.5 per cent import declaration and 2 per cent railway development levy.

Six MPs drawn from the National Assembly's Committee on Decentralised Funds led by Vice Chairperson Gertrude Mbelu are lobbying to ensure a Win-Win situation for all Kenyans.

On Tuesday, they met Kakamega governor Fernandes Barasa, who is also the Council of Governors chair for Finance, Planning and Economic Affairs.

Speaking after the meeting, Baraza said the ordinary citizen should be considered during the debate.

"We need a win-win situation between Government revenues and welfare for our People. Try to manage all expectations because we serve the same people,’’ Barasa said.

Barasa also petitioned Parliament to push for funding for counties with the same zeal witnessed during the clamour for the return of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF).

"I urge the Senate to support devolution fully. We need funding to ensure that the bottom-up economic model by the National Government succeeds," Barasa added.

Last month while appearing before the Senate Budget and Appropriation Committee, Barasa said the national treasury owes county government money in arrears for the last four months running into billions of shillings.

Speaking during the burial of the slain Kisa East MCA Stephen Maloba in Munjiti village Khwisero Constituency Kakamega County, Baraza said devolution is under threat because the national government is delaying releasing the equitable share to counties.  

Barasa said that they will shut down service in the counties if the government will not release the funds by May 15th. 

 “The Treasury has released the schedule that it will be used to release the money to counties starting with the month of March and this was after we made noise and threatened to shut down services in the 47 counties,” said Barasa. 

 Barasa said that the counties are owed Sh65bilion by the treasury for the month of March, April, and now May.

He said that if the government does not release the funds for the month of March by May 15, all services in the 47 devolved units will be shut down.

  “Shutting down services means no single service will be given to the residents and that is why we are telling the Cabinet Secretary for Finance to release the funds for the month of March in one week’s time because if he does not we will not hesitate to paralyze service to the people because we want to serve our people as we promised them to uplift their lives,” said Barasa.

 COG chairperson Anne Waiguru last week said operations in counties have been grounded following the delayed disbursement of funds from the exchequer.

 Waiguru said the dire situations in the devolved units were a dire warning that if the national government doesn’t release funds, operations at the 47 Counties will be shut.

 Mbelu who is also the Kilifi County MP said the legislators will debate the motion with an open mind without leaning to any side.

 ‘‘As MPs, we don't agree with some of the proposals" she said.

 The National Treasury CS Prof Njuguna Ndung’u announced that the three months' arrears in the Equitable Share to counties amounting to Sh94.7 billion and dating back to February will be disbursed in badges by month end.