Governors threaten to close counties over revenue row
Governors have threatened to shut down operations in all 47 counties next month should the National Assembly and the Senate fail to resolve the stalemate on division on revenue.
The impasse has already paralysed some functions in the devolved units.
The Council of Governors, through chairman Wycliffe Oparanya said if the National government released the equitable share by September 16, no devolved function would operational forthwith.
Addressing a news conference yesterday, Oparanya, who is also the Kakamega Governor told workers, some of who have gone without pay, to be ready for tougher times because there is no money to pay their August salaries.
“The county governments will not be able to pay salaries at the end of this month going forward. Beyond, the 16th of September 2019, if the matter (Division on Revenue row) is not resolved, the county governments will have no option but to shut down,” Oparanya said, in what he described as a resolution by governors.
Among key services to be affected are health, agriculture, garbage collection, fire fighting and Early Childhood Education. The two Houses are locked in a dispute, with the National Assembly proposing Sh316.5 billion allocations to counties while the Senate insists on Sh335.6 billion.
On August 15, signs of hope were seen when the two Houses picked their respective teams after Chief Justice David Maraga directed Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka to pick a team to mediate the stalemate.
The teams, which include nine MPs and nine senators were selected to spearhead talks on the matter. Hopes of a deal evaporated after senators skipped the talks.
National Assembly Leader of Majority Aden Duale is leading his Minority counterpart, John Mbadi, Kimani Ichung’wa, (Kikuyu) Cecily Mbarire, (Nominated) Junet Mohammed (Suna East) and Amos Kimunya (Kipipiri) on behalf of the National Assembly.
Ease the suffering
The Senate team comprises Finance Committee chairman Mohammed Mohamud, Johnstone Sakaja (Nairobi), Ledama ole Kina, (Narok), Mutula Kilonzo, (Makueni), Charles Kabiru, (Kirinyaga), Margaret Kamar (Uasin-Gishu), Mithika Linturi (Meru), Okong’o Omogeni (Nyamira) and Rose Nyamunga (Nominated).
Governors have expressed hope that the talks, which are a second initiative, will offer a solution before they take the next step, which will precipitate a crisis in regional governments.
“As you know, the matter is not in our court as governors, it’s being resolved by the two Houses. We hope that they can resolve the matter expeditiously to ease the suffering that is in the counties,” said Oparanya who was accompanied by his vice-chairman, Muran’ga Governor Mwangi Wa Iria.
An earlier meeting called by Senate Finance Committee and attended by representatives from Attorney General’s office, GoG and the Controller of Budget resolved that Sh155 billion representing 50 per cent of the funding be withdrawn from the Consolidated Fund to cushion the counties.
Acting Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani said he was ready to release 50 per cent of Sh310 billion for counties but not without a legal backing and asked the AG to advice on the legal implications if any.
But Senators and the COG differed with Yattani on the amount to be released and insisted that required allocation should be 50 per cent of Sh314 billion as per last year’s Division of Revenue Allocations.
At the same time, the Council of Governors also announced it would be pushing for an amendment of the Constitution saying the implementation of the current one had failed devolution.
However, Oparanya said governors would consult the Senate and County Assemblies through their County Assemblies’ Forum (CAF).