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Resolving revenue row quickly will stem looming cash delays

EDITORIAL
By Editorial | July 20th 2020

The push and pull over the new county revenue sharing formula is unhealthy and could quickly take an ugly political turn. 

Yesterday, governors came out guns blazing, saying the current standoff in the Senate over revenue allocation is a scheme to starve them of funds, stall their programmes and turn residents against them ahead of 2022 elections. 

As per the new method proposed by the Commission of Revenue Allocation (CRA), counties with a large population but small land size will get more cash compared to those with small population but have large land mass.

This has drawn a wedge between counties that will lose billions of shillings and those gaining. Eighteen counties could lose up to Sh17 billion if the proposal is adopted and applied in the current financial year.

By senators not agreeing on the new formula on the allocation of Sh316.5 billion, they cannot debate the County Allocation of Revenue Bill 2020, which gives Treasury the legal framework to dispatch money to counties in the 2020/21 financial year. This could end up in delays with unpleasant consequences.

Fear is rife that crucial services could screech to a halt in all the 47 counties due to funding delays, with only one principal casualty — the taxpayer. The health sector is particularly vulnerable, given the counties are ill-prepared to curb spread of Covid-19. 

Needless to say, the ongoing heat over this new proposal is understandable given the sensitivity of matters relating to resources. However, sobriety is paramount. Let this important national matter awaiting the Senate’s verdict not be fodder for unhealthy political exchanges. We reiterate that a common ground should be struck sooner to ensure a win-win situation.

We welcome President Uhuru Kenyatta’s overtures to other parties in search for a solution. And with the Council of Governors preparing to deliberate on the funding crisis next week, we urge the county chiefs not to make it even harder for the Senate, which deferred a vote on the matter last week to fix the issues.

We will exhibit lack of foresight if we allow too much negative energy into the debate. Senators should go for what’s in the best interest of devolution. The president, governors and the Senate should be alive to what’s at stake. It is important public interest is upheld.

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