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Senate, National Assembly rivalry rekindled over counties funding

Senate Speaker Amason Kingi and his National Assembly counterpart Moses Wetangula. [File, Standard] 

The rivalry between the Senate and National Assembly has been rekindled following the rejection of amendments to the Division of Revenue Allocation Bill, where the Senate sought to increase the allocation to counties to Sh415 billion.

The Senators, who spoke on the floor of the House, said it was wrong for the National Assembly, which wants the allocation to the 47 counties to remain at Sh391 billion, to castigate the Senate, which is merely advocating development.

Senate Speaker Amason Kingi informed the House that the National Assembly had formed a mediation committee to deliberate on the differences that saw the Senate’s amendments rejected.

Kingi announced that National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetangula had appointed Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro, Teso South MP Mary Emase, Ugenya MP David Ochieng, Alego Usonga MP Samuel Atandi, and Kapenguria MP Samuel Moroto as members of the mediation committee.

Furthermore, Kitutu Chache North MP Japheth Nyakundi, Samburu West MP Naisula Lesuuda, Kitui Central MP Makali Mulu, and Garsen MP Ali Wario were also appointed to serve on the committee.

Kingi stated: “In consultation with Senate Majority Leader Aaron Cheruiyot and Senate Minority Leader Stewart Madzayo, I will be appointing nine senators to join their colleagues in the National Assembly in the mediation committee to resolve this contentious issue.”

Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna expressed concern that the National Assembly’s decision was an attempt to turn Kenyans against devolution, noting that the money sent to counties represents less than 10 per cent of the national budget.

Sifuna argued that it was inappropriate for the National Assembly to disparage the Senate and that the challenges faced by counties should be discussed soberly. He emphasised that casting aspersions on decisions made for the good of the country was wrong.

Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina stated that they are only requesting Sh415 billion for counties and dismissed claims that the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NGCDF) is more effective.

Devolution advocacy

“If we do not advocate for devolution, we will be remembered as a Senate that failed to fulfil its roles. Those serving on the mediation committee must be Senators who are committed to championing the interests of counties,” said Kina.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargey accused the National Assembly of misleading the public by suggesting that increasing county allocation to Sh415 billion would result in a reduction of the NG-CDF.

Cherargey emphasised: “The reason we want the allocation to counties increased is to ensure that our people receive quality services. It is disgraceful that our colleagues in the National Assembly are attempting to mislead the country regarding the Senate’s proposal to increase allocation to counties.”

Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang praised the Senators for supporting the increase in funds for counties, enabling them to fulfil their duties. He commended the Senate Finance Committee for its commendable work aimed at ensuring the success of devolution.

Kajwang expressed hope that the mediation committee would stand firm for devolution and not be swayed by political party pressures to make unpopular decisions.

He acknowledged that while the NGCDF has led to significant development in some areas, there have also been instances of embezzlement.

CDF graft

“We should not solely blame Governors when corruption has been observed in the management of the National Government Constituency Development Fund over the years. It is incorrect for Members of the National Assembly to mislead Kenyans on this matter,” said Sifuna.

Nyandarua Senator John Methu argued that there should be no competition between devolution and the NGCDF, as their roles are clearly defined by law. He emphasised the importance of ensuring efficient service delivery in counties.

Methu questioned how counties are expected to perform effectively when their funds are reduced. As a member of the Senate County Public Accounts Committee, he has witnessed some counties excelling and raised concerns about the expectation for counties to employ teachers and nurses without adequate funding.

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