No deal yet: Senators never agreed on revenue formula

Two weeks after members of a House select committee told the country they had hammered out a deal on the controversial division of revenue sharing formula, it is now emerging that it was all hot air.

The Standard has established there was no such deal, and senators had in fact prepared two reports after disagreeing on the way forward.

The 12-member committee charged with the responsibility of seeking a deal on the matter handed over two reports to Senate Majority leader Samuel Poghisio and minority leader James Orengo, and asked them to seek an audience with President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition chief Raila Odinga on the way forward.

“The salient issue is that the two House leaders were to present the reports to the two top political leaders so they can offer leadership and direction,” said a source aware of the committee deliberations.

This came as a shocker especially after the committee went as far as addressing a press conference soon after and declared there was a deal.

The debates in the chamber were highly charged as senators disagreed on the formula. Unable to make any progress, the senate set up the team to help address the differences.

According to some senators who are also members of the committee, the team submitted two reports because they could not agree on the best formula given counties that are gaining insisted that they must gain while those losing insisted that they cannot lose.

Sources who spoke to Te Standard in confidence, said one of the reports is similar to that of the House Finance and Budget Committee that has been at the centre of a dispute for over two months now. It supports the one-man, one-vote, one shilling arrangement as advocated by senators from populous counties.

If the Finance committee’s report was to be adopted, less populous counties in Coast, Northeastern, lower Eastern, parts of Rift Valley and Nyanza, would have their allocations reduced by Sh17 billion.

Formula proposed

The other report largely borrows from a formula proposed by Meru Senator Mithika Linturi in which Sh270 billion out of the Sh316.5 billion is shared equally among the devolved units. The remaining Sh46.5 billion would be shared based on parameters such as landmass, population and health among others.

The committee agreed that should either of the reports be adopted, its implementation should start after two years.

“We recommended that whichever formula is adopted, it should take effect after two years. We hope by then, the National Treasury shall have increased allocation to counties,” said the source.

The Senate has failed to approve the revenue sharing formula that would determine how counties would share the Sh316.5 billion allocated under the Division of Revenue between the national government and counties in the 2020/2021 financial year.

Poghisio said what was handed to them is still work in progress. He said they will take up the matter once the Senate resumes from its recess on September 8.

“What was presented is not final. The documents are work still in progress. We agreed to have a break and look for fresh ideas once the Senate resumes,” said Poghisio.

Senate Majority Whip Irungu Kang’ata (Murang’a) admitted that the committee has not completed its work and that discussions are still ongoing.

“No firm conclusion has been reached, the discussions we had were tentative. We will further the discussions. We expect to get a final document any time this week to give us a way forward,” said Kangata.

Kang’ata denied they sought President Kenyatta’s help in the revenue stalemate.

“We have not reached out to the president and as a matter of fact, I did not indicate that and to the best of my knowledge, I am not aware,” he said.

House leadership

Senators Ledama ole Kina (Narok), Samson Cherargei (Nandi), who are members of the committee, said its now the duty of the House leadership to make the contents public.

Ledama said the House leadership should decide the next course of action. “If there is no consensus, then the report should be brought to the House for a vote.”

“We expect the House leadership to give direction but if nothing is achieved, then let them bring the report to the floor of the House so we take a vote,” said Ledama.

Cherargei said: “We cannot say there is no solution. There is smoke but it’s not white because we have not captured the aspirations of many people as was expected,” he said.

“The report has been submitted to the House leadership and honours is now on them to reveal to the public the contents,” he added.