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ELECTION 2022

Counties stare at financial crisis as stalemate on Revenue Bill rages

POLITICS
By MOSES NJAGIH and ROSELYNE OBALA | May 27th 2015 | 3 min read
Parliamentary Budget Committee Chairman Mutava Musyimi (right) with his Vice Chair Mary Emase. A mediation team on Revenue Bill will today have to take one of the four options given to it by the Parliamentary Budget Office on the way forward. [PHOTO: FILE/STANDARD]

Counties were yesterday facing prospects of a financial hardship after a mediation committee failed to reach a consensus on a Sh7.7 billion stand-off.

The mediation team, comprising of members of the Senate and the National Assembly, will today have to make take one of the four options given to it by the Parliamentary Budget Office on the way forward, with both teams maintaining a hardline position on the proposed law.

The budget office advised the teams to either take the drastic action of allowing the bill to collapse by failing to reach a consensus, take the National Assembly's option of giving counties Sh283 billion, consider the Senate's position of Sh291 billions or both teams cede ground and meet at the middle by giving the devolved units Sh3.3 billion addition.

While the representatives from the Senate appeared to, at the worst, go for the last option, where they would get an extra Sh3 billion for counties, the National Assembly was adamant that they would not give in to anything short of their initial, giving little prospect of them agreeing when they meet today.

Should the teams fail to agree today, then the Division of Revenue Bill will be lost, a situation that would put funding for counties at a dilemma.

SUPREMACY EGO

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Billow Kerrow (Mandera) yesterday said the Government would have to find a bail out plan for counties in case the bill is lost.

"Senate has justifiable reasons to demand for the increase of allocations to counties. The Government has the finances and cannot fail to bail counties out as we begin the process afresh," said Kerrow.

After failing to reach an agreement yesterday, the mediation team from the National Assembly led by Mbeere South MP Mutava Musyimi retreated to the House's Budget committee, where sources told The Standard they were advised to stand their ground against giving an extra cent to the counties.

"It is a stalemate we have failed to agree," said Mutava, as he headed for the committee meeting.

His deputy, Mary Emase (Teso South) blamed the Senate team of being driven by supremacy ego and refusing to yield even after they were convinced that their amendments were not tenable. "We will have to move back to the whole house to debate the Bill afresh, otherwise nothing will come out of the mediation process," Emase added.

Senator Mutahi Kagwe (Nyeri) confirmed to The Standard that the talks hit a dead end as both parties took hardline stance on the matter. "The mediation meeting has flopped. However, there seems to be a way out. The budget office has advised on four options," explained Kagwe.

Kerrow said the Sh7.7 billion was a small fraction, which the national government should yield to. Senator Boni Khalwale faulted colleagues from the National Assembly "for not taking county issues seriously."

"I regret to note that my colleagues never intended to ensure the mediation takes place. In a negotiation process, you cannot remain in the original position. We must reach a middle ground," said Khalwale.

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