Governors threaten to trigger Senate closure

Friday, September 4th, 2020 12:00 |
Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya. Photo/PD/Bernard Malonza

Governors have threatened to sponsor a motion to dissolve the Senate over its failure to pass the third basis for revenue sharing among the 47 counties.

The threat comes even as the Senate denied any wrong-doing regarding the financial crisis facing the devolved units.

 While expressing discontent with the Senate’s failure to build consensus on the third generation formula which has consequently delayed the approval of the County Allocation of Revenue Act, the Council of Governors (CoG) lamented counties have not received their equitable share of revenue three months into the current financial year 2020/21.

“This has had serious implications on the general operations of County Governments and payment of salaries to County staff,” said the CoG chairman Wycliffe Oparanya.

“This is tantamount to killing devolution similar to what happened in 1964,” he added.

Oparanya accused the Senate of failing to safeguard the interests of the 47 county governments by failing to pass the formula.

“This has left counties with no resources to effectively discharge their functions especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said the Kakamega governor.

Senate committee

CoG’s uproar comes at a time the 12-member Senate committee formed to determine how counties share the Sh316.5 billion allocated to them in the 2020-21 budget is yet to agree on the way forward.

To this end, the governors warned senators that a petition from any member of the public through the High Court as can initiate its dissolution provided for under Article 258 of the Constitution.

“It is unfortunate that county governments are unable to even pay the salaries and allowances of our health workers who remain in the frontline to save the lives of Kenyans,” said Oparanya.

He warned that the county governments risk shutting down if the stalemate persists beyond mid September. 

Equitable share

They called on the National Treasury to release the county equitable share of revenue without further delays.

 “Indeed, the Attorney General cannot overrule the Supreme Court finding and must therefore withdraw the Advisory.”

But in quick rejoinder, Senate majority Whip Senator Irungu refuted claims that the Senate was dragging its feet in resolving the impasse saying the national treasury could still go ahead and release monies to the devolved units despite of the stalemate.

 “National Treasury has sufficient legal authority to disburse monies to counties despite the senate failure to pass County Allocation Revenue Allocation (CARA),” Kang’ata told a press conference at Parliament Buildings. “Treasury has authority to disburse up to 50 per cent of last year’s equitable shareable revenue.”

Kang’ata however blamed the office of the Controller of Budget for failing to authorise the disbursement of the funds.

Last week, a Senate committee formed to broker a deal on the contentious formula announced a breakthrough.

This came as a shocker especially after the committee went as far as addressing a press conference soon after and declared there was a deal.

The debates in the chamber were highly charged as senators disagreed on the formula. Unable to make any progress, the senate set up the team to help address the differences.

According to some senators who are also members of the committee, the team submitted two reports because they could not agree on the best formula given counties that are gaining insisted that they must gain while those losing insisted that they cannot lose.

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