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Debate on population versus land mass turn into 2022 politics

Former Mandera Senator Billow Kerrow at a past meeting. He has poked holes on the one man, one vote, one shilling mantra backed by Mt Kenya senators, arguing that the nine counties that make up the larger Mt Kenya do not generate 60 per cent of the GDP. [File, Standard]

The proponents of population against land mass as the main factor to determine counties’ allocations in the next five years, are pulling in different direction.

In what is becoming a hot political potato, with its ramifications extending to the 2022 succession politics, political leaders are sharply divided on the best formula to be applied.

The stalemate has stalled the passage of the County Allocation of Revenue (CARA) Bill 2020, which will allow counties to get funds.

While some senators have vowed to shoot down the Senate Finance Committee’s report on the basis that some devolved units will lose out, others have argued on the ‘one man, one vote, one shilling’ mantra.

Proponents of the formula have argued that money should be allocated based on population while those opposing it contend that land mass must also be taken into account since it takes a long distance to render service to people especially in vast counties.

The biggest counties with huge land mass include Marsabit with 70,961 square kilometres, Turkana (68,680), Wajir (56,686), Garissa (44,175), Tana River (38,437), Kitui (30,479), Mandera (25,991) and Isiolo (25,336) respectively.

The proposed formula has adopted a sector-specific funding approach and it places focus on the performance and pressure of the population on specific sectors, fiscal discipline and accountability and revenue performance.

The revenue sharing to devolved functions uses three components, namely; service delivery, balanced development and incentive.

The framework proposes allocation of 65 per cent of the revenue for enhancing the delivery of public services, 31 per cent for promotion of balanced development, and four per cent to incentivise revenue-collection and fiscal prudence.

Under the third basis, basic share will take up the highest percentage at 20 per cent, followed by population (18), health services (17), poverty levels (14), agricultural services (10), land area (8), urban service (5), and rural access (4) while fiscal effort and fiscal prudence will take 2 per cent respectively. 

In the first basis, the then Micah Cheserem-led CRA put parameters of population at 45 per cent, equal share (25), poverty levels (20), land area (8) and fiscal responsibility two per cent respectively.

In its second basis formula for revenue allocation, CRA proposed that the population parameter be retained at 45 per cent, equal share (26), poverty levels (18), land area (8), fiscal effort (2) and development support at one per cent.

Some Mt Kenya leaders have been pushing for the one man, one vote, one shilling mantra.

But former Mandera Senator Billow Kerrow has poked holes on this, arguing that the nine counties that make up the larger Mt Kenya do not generate 60 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as claimed by the leaders.

More than 70 elected leaders from the region had declared in 2018 that the region was sidelined in development, citing that whilst the region generated 60 per cent of the country’s GDP, it only received 20 per cent of county revenue share.

If the formula is passed on Tuesday, Senate will move with speed to pass the CAR Bill to allow the Counties access funds. 

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