Senate to have final say on revenue to counties

Friday, October 2nd, 2020 00:00 |
Council of Governors members, led by chairman Wycliffe Oparanya (centre), address the press in the past. Photo/PD/File

Eric Wainaina @Wainaina 

The Senate will have the final say on the sharing of revenue among counties, if the BBI report is adopted.

In the present case, the Senate cannot overturn amendments to the County Allocation of Revenue Bill by the National Assembly.  

The Bill has been a constant subject of a tug-of-war between the two Houses of Parliament.

The document, which has been drafted as an amendment to the 2010 Constitution has also proposed creation of a Ward Development Fund, a recommendation that could likely excite Members of County Assemblies.

The County Allocation of Revenue Bill, which guides sharing of revenue among counties will still be introduced at the Senate and enacted by Parliament within a period of 30 days of the commencement of Division of Revenue Act by National Assembly to divide cash between national and county government.

The National Assembly will be required to pass the County Allocation of Revenue Bill without any amendment and the Speaker will be required to send it back to the Senate within seven days of passing.

National Assembly

However, if the National Assembly makes changes to the County Allocation of Revenue Bill that senators are uncomfortable with, BBI empowers the Senate to overturn the decision and directly send the recommendations to the President for approval.

“The Senate may veto a resolution of the National Assembly to amend the County Allocation of Revenue Bill… by a resolution supported by at least a majority of all the delegates of the Senate and the Bill shall thereafter be referred to the President for assent,” reads the Bill in part.

The move is meant to cure constant conflicts between the National Assembly and the Senate over the amount of money to which often delay disbursement of cash to regions.

 Last year, Members of the National Assembly and senators failed to agree on the allocation of monies devolved units will get in the 2019/2020 financial year.

While the Senators had demanded counties to be given Sh335 billion their National Assembly stuck to Sh314 billion and without a mandate to overturn, senators were helpless as counties waited longer to receive cash.

The bar on the prudence management of county resources has been raised with the Bill suggesting an amendment on Article 203 to include “the need to eradicate corrupt practices and wastage of public resources” as part of the criteria for determining equitable sharing of national revenue.

Further, to promote equity, the Constitution of Kenya(Amendment) Bill dated June 30, 2020; the same day the BBI task force’s term expired has proposed a Ward Development Fund that comprises of at least five percent of all county government revenue in each financial year.

The funds, which could excite Ward Reps into supporting the BBI process, should be used for development and will only finance functions that fall under the county governments.

“The Ward Development Fund shall comprise at least five percent of all the county government’s revenue in each financial year and ensures that some of the money allocated or collected by the county government is utilized for the development in the wards,” the report suggests.

Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata, who is also the Senate Majority Whip, had in 2018 proposed the creation of a similar a kitty to be managed like the Constituency Development Fund, through the County Wards Development Equalisation Bill, 2018.

Kang’ata said the kitty sought to promote equitable and decentralised development across the country, through a uniform development kitty for each ward to run specific projects that fall under devolved functions.

One percent of the national revenue will also be used to establish “Share Prosperity Fund” to be spent on providing appropriate security to persons who are unable to support themselves and their dependent, and shall be managed by a joint authority of the national and county government.

The Equalisation Fund, which is allocated to counties, considered marginalised has not only been retained but the report has also proposed that its lifespan be prolonged from the current 20 years to 30 years.

“The amendment has been necessitated on account of the fact that monies from the Fund have not been disbursed regularly and the proposed amendment will cater for the backlog,” says the Bill.

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