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Governors sue senators over revenue sharing stand-off

By Paul Ogemba and Japheth Ogila | September 16th 2020
Chair of Council of Governors (CoG) Wycliffe Oparanya. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

Governors have sued senators over the stalemate on a revenue allocation formula that has stalled disbursement of funds to counties.

The county chiefs are seeking the court’s intervention to withdraw 50 per cent of budgetary allocation to counties to save them from imminent collapse and suspension of essential services to the public.

Through lawyer Issa Mansur, the Council of Governors accused senators of serving selfish interests at the expense of service delivery at the devolved units and wants the National Treasury compelled to release the money allocated to counties pending resolution of the dispute.

“Most operations at the counties have grounded and unless the Treasury and the Controller of Budget release the funds, there will be no services available to the public and county governments will be forced to release all their employees who have not been paid salaries,” Mansur said.

He argued that the Constitution requires senators to determine the basis for revenue sharing to counties once every five years but the senators have for a record 10 times failed to pass the third basis generation formula.

The latest attempt to break the deadlock was made on Tuesday when President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga held a meeting with the Senate leadership, with a promise that the government will increase allocation to counties by Sh50 billion from next financial year.

But the governors accused the senators of being insincere in their differences that have led to the stalemate, arguing that counties are in imminent danger of collapsing unless an urgent intervention is reached within the next 14 days.

Blame game

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The county chiefs have lashed at the lawmakers for backpedalling on their mandate and failing to protect the counties and devolution as dictated by the law. For instance, the governors say that the County Revenue Allocation Act 2020 has not been passed due to the hardstands assumed by the senators.

The Senate has convened on several occasions to pass the revenue allocation bill, but such attempts have hit a snag. Currently, the lawmakers are split in the middle as one faction led by the Majority Chief Whip Irungu Kang’ata vouch for the third basis revenue sharing formula based on the one-man-one shilling.

The formula, preferred by President Uhuru Kenyatta, has attracted criticism from various quarters on grounds that it only favours most populous counties and reduces revenue for counties with smaller population but huge landmass.

The other faction, led by Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja and his Makueni counterpart Mutula Kilonzo Jr, is fronting a formula that would see no county losing founds. Legislators from arid and semi-arid (ASAL) areas have protested against the third basis formula saying it would create an imbalance in the distribution of resources.

Governors have called for action saying senators should strike a middle ground as soon as possible to save the counties from the crisis.

“It seems the senators have woken up from their slumber that they have been in for three years. They knew about the formula three years ago, yet they have continuously treated the country to theatrics during the ten times they have convened to consider the formula,” noted a statement from the Council of Governors released on Wednesday.

The council instructed counties to shut down and only consider offering pertinent services owing to the expiry of grace period they issued for cash crunch to be addressed.

“Due to ongoing stalemate at the Senate, on funds flow County Governments, have no choice but to proceed to shut down and suspend all non-essential services,” CoG said.



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