Governors and senators yesterday clashed over the cash crisis in counties occasioned by delays in the passage of the sharing formula.
The county chiefs ordered closure of key county services today to pile pressure on the Senate to fast-track the passage of the third basis generation formula that gives room for the enactment of the County Allocation of Revenue Bill.
Meanwhile, senators dared any county bosses to implement the decree by Council of Governors (CoG) issued through its chair, Wycliffe Oparanya.
In a game of musical chairs, the lawmakers maintained that the "heart" of the counties cash crunch lies with the National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani, who is yet to release 50 per cent of the revenue as advised by the Supreme Court advisory of 2013 on the Division of Revenue standoff, the Constitution and the subsidiary law and regulations.
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Oparanya had earlier yesterday communicated to his colleagues that county health facilities should not permit any new inpatient admissions but only handle emergencies.
“County health facilities will not permit any new inpatient admissions. They will only provide minimal outpatient services," Oparanya said in a statement.
“All non-essential services are hereby suspended and county employees are advised to proceed on leave. In the meantime, CoG will continue to push for the speedy release of funds,” he said.
By the time Senate leadership was writing to CoG to forestall crisis, some governors like Alfred Mutua of Machakos had already written to the County Executive Committee members and chief officers to suspend non-essential services.
“During this period, the County Executive Committee members should conduct working tours, site visits and field engagements with the public in relation to the ongoing county government projects,” Mutua said in a statement.
In a swift rejoinder, Senate Majority leader Samuel Poghisio and his Minority counterpart James Orengo wrote a joint letter to Oparanya asking him not to take any action that would affect services at the counties as the devolved units were inching closer to reaching a deal.
“Members have generally agreed on the way forward in the Speaker’s Kamukunji meeting held yesterday (Tuesday),” they said.
Later in the afternoon, senators turned their wrath on Oparanya and Yatani. Minority Leader Mutula Kilonzo Jnr (Makueni) claimed Oparanya had failed both the CoG and the country.
“If any hospital shuts down, Oparanya and Yatani will 'see',” he said.
Nairobi Senator Johnstone Sakaja urged the Nairobi Metropolitan Service (NMS) Director General Maj Mohammed Badi to protect the sanctity of human life by ensuring healthcare services are not disrupted.
“We miss governors Isaac Ruto, Peter Munya and Josphat Nanok and it is shocking to us how somebody who has been the Minister for Planning (Oparanya)...can act in such a manner," Sakaja said.
Senators Enock Wambua, Abshiro Halakhe, Njeru Ndwiga and Moses Wetang'ula dared governors to shut down services.
“I hear that my governor Mutua has effected that illegal direction by Oparanya. Mutua, you're moving very fast,” warned Senator Boniface Kabaka.
“Does Oparanya not believe in the offer we were given yesterday (Tuesday) of Sh53.5 billion?" asked Senator Petronilla Were.
“He cannot shut down any county. He's not in charge of any other county,” said Senator Mahamud Mohamed.
Last night, Oparanya issued a statement hitting out at senators for attempting to turn the heat on him and the CoG.
"It seems like senators have just woken up from their five-year slumber. They knew about the formula five years ago, yet they have continuously treated the country to theatrics," he said.
[Roselyne Obala, Cyrus Ombati and Moses Nyamori]