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Senators resume debate on elusive cash-sharing deal

By Roselyne Obala and Moses Nyamori | September 7th 2020 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

The Senate leadership is expected to give direction on a report by its mediation committee in a bid to unlock the deadlock on the formula for revenue sharing among counties.

After two weeks of deliberations, The Standard has reliably learnt that the 12- member committee led by Senators Johnston Sakaja and Moses Wetang’ula agreed on two options to settle the stalemate if either is voted for, or revert to suspended vote on the proposed amendments on the Finance Committee report before the House.  

The committee has now implored Speaker Ken Lusaka to convene a Kamukunji (informal) sitting this week to allow the senators to deliberate on the report before it is tabled in the House.

It has also urged Majority Leader Samuel Poghisio and his Minority counterpart James Orengo to move the Motion on the floor of the House once it is approved by the House Business Committee.

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The Standard has established that the committee was forced to narrow down to the two options after meeting National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani and Commission for Revenue Allocation (CRA) chairperson Dr Jane Kiringai.

Insiders’ sources told The Standard the CS failed to guarantee the government’s commitment to a progressive increment in allocation from the next budget from Sh316.5 billion, to Sh325 billion, then Sh333 billion and Sh341 billion in the third years as provided for the Budget Policy Statement.

“We have fundamentally agreed that these year’s figures will remain as the last financial year. The born of contention is how we progress in the subsequent years in determining the third generation formula that is a win-win,” said a senator aware of the committee’s closed-door deliberations.

It is reported that the committee was taken aback by the presentation by Dr Kiringai amending the CRA proposal, which would see 28 counties lose funds, which was completely off their initial proposal.

“We have petitioned the Speaker to convene a Kamukunji to allow members to internalise and deliberate on this matter before it’s tabled in the House to get buy-in,” said a member of the committee.

“The leadership led by Orengo and Poghisio can also schedule to table the same before the HBC for approval before it’s listed in the Order Paper. We have asked the two to table the report instead of the committee to avoid any acrimony that might arise from the opposing sides.”

According to the committee, the options on the table, include one, the baseline for allocation be capped at Sh273 billion, mirroring that proposed by Meru Senator Mithika Linturi and backed by a majority of the senators, retaining the old figures, while over and above be subjected to the new proposals.

The other is to go with the second, mainly derived from Kiambu Senator Kimani Wamatangi proposal that has co-opted Orengo’s proposal seeking to include additional factors such as pastoralism, the livestock, the blue economy, the extractive industries and wildlife and conservation.

The committee had noted in its deliberations that Orengo’s proposal was futuristic, however, Wamatangi’s recommendation cures some of the concerns through his 50 per cent proposal to cushion losing counties.

“This means in the subsequent year after the formula comes into effect, a county like Nandi that is set to receive Sh1.4 billion additional allocation will lose Sh700 million, which will then be shared among the losing counties,” explained a senator.

Last month members of the team said they had reached an understanding on all the contentious amendments, including on submissions by CRA and the National Treasury.

Addressing a Press conference at Parliament Buildings, Mr Wetang’ula, flanked by the committee’s members, said they had prepared a harmonised proposal that would resolve the impasse. “We have made tremendous progress. We are getting to the final bend to take the dash home. The committee will be presenting its findings and outcome in a report form to the leadership of the House, led by Speaker Lusaka,” Wetang’ula said. However, the report remains a closely guarded secret.

Nevertheless, a number of senators who spoke to The Standard agreed that the second option will be creating false winners and losers. “From where we sit, CRA has nothing. The amendments proposed by CRA were very problematic, especially the parameters on land area, fiscal prudence and fiscal effort,” said a member of the committee.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM’s Raila Odinga have lobbied senators to back the CRA proposal formula and amendments by Nominated Senator Petronilla Were, seeking to retain the status quo until allocation by the government is increased to Sh348 billion.

Ms Were, an ANC member, has the backing of her party leader Musalia Mudavadi.

Deputy President William Ruto backed the Linturi formula, which seeks to further amendment of the Sakaja proposal that capped the baseline at Sh316.5 billion, down to Sh270 billion.

Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) has convened a special council meeting on Tuesday to deliberate the matter, urging Mr Lusaka to expedite passage.


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