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Senate passes Division of Revenue Bill

POLITICS
By Brian Otieno | April 14th 2021
Session during the election of the Senate Deputy Speaker at the Senate chambers in Nairobi, June 2, 2020 [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Senate yesterday unanimously passed the Division of Revenue Bill (DORB), 2021, amid lamentations of wanton pilferage of public funds.

In what seems like a move to claim stake to some additional Sh39.8 billion worth of conditional allocations, senators amended the DORB to exclude the provision of conditional allocations from the Bill.

This was in line with a recommendation by the finance and budget committee following by a 2016 court ruling that found the inclusion of conditional allocations in the DORB to be unlawful.

The amendment prompts the need to formulate a legal framework through which the Sh39.8 billion will be disbursed to the counties, given that no such framework exists currently in law.

Senators raised issue with the current framework, which they claimed stifled their oversight capabilities, as the expenditure of funds was unknown to them.

“The executive is very good at playing gymnastics as they played it through leasing medical equipment, where they say that this belongs to you but we will not release the funds to you for you to spend it,” charged minority leader, James Orengo.

“…conditional grants mislead the public that counties receive a lot of money and, in reality, it is not shared equitably among the counties,” said Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen.

Migori Senator Ochillo Ayacko termed the allocation a “usurpation” of the responsibility of Senate since the House, and county assemblies, could not appropriate and oversight conditional allocations.

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The budget committee chaired by Kirinyaga Senator Charles Kibiru proposed a law to determine the expenditure of conditional allocations acquired as loans and grants from government and development partners.

The amended DORB, a National Assembly Bill, will now go through a mediation committee that will ratify the changes.

The DORB provides the framework through which the two levels of government share the Sh1.7 trillion revenue shared nationally and its passage paves the way for the conclusion of the budgeting process.

In the next financial year, the 47 counties will get Sh370 billion, the highest allocation since the onset of devolution, being a Sh53.5 billion increment of the previous year’s Sh316.5 billion.

And as they celebrated the increment, earned from a series of divisive debates last year, senators cautioned county governments against the plunder of public funds.

“The president said that this country is losing Sh2 billion through corruption per day. If there is a better definition of a nation of thieves, there is no other place to look for… stealing is part of our DNA,” said Orengo.

“We should not steal from the sick. We should uphold integrity,” charged Kibiru.

Senators also blasted Treasury for perennial late disbursement of county cash.

 

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