Uhuru intervenes in bid to unlock cash sharing crisis

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020 00:00 |
Kisii Senator Sam Ongeri.

Hillary Mageka @hillarymageka

President Uhuru Kenyatta was yesterday forced to step in and calm the growing tension among senators over the contentious Third Basis for revenue allocation among the 47 county governments.

Sources revealed that Uhuru’s last-minute intervention led to the cancellation of what would have been a charged meeting to strike a balance between lawmakers whose counties are gaining in the new formula on one side, and their counterparts losing on the other.

Dubbed “Speaker’s Kamukunji”, the meeting has been indefinitely put-off ostensibly to build consensus among legislators so as to minimise losses to marginalised and ASAL counties.

“Further to my letter dated July 3, inviting you for Speaker’s Kamukunji on July 6, kindly note the Kamukunji has been cancelled due to unavoidable circumstances.” Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka in a notice circulated to all the 67 senators.

But a source who spoke to People Daily in confidence said it was going to get messy and dirtier should the meeting have proceeded as some lawmakers had already formed groupings to shoot down any proposal from the Senate Committee on Finance and Budget.

“This thing is like a hot potato, no one wants to touch it, it is even beyond the senators themselves, the President had to intervene otherwise it would have gotten out of hand,” a parliamentary protocol official who sought anonymity because he is not allowed to speak on behalf of the Senate disclosed.

This even as it emerged that ODM leader Raila Odinga, who is recuperating in a Dubai-based hospital, has instructed his troops in the House to join “their friends” from the Coast and Northern Kenya to reject the proposed formula and maintain the status quo.

The new formula is a sharp departure from the first and second sharing formula where population, basic equal share, poverty, land area, development, personnel emolument and fiscal responsibility were the key parameters. 

Its prescription ensures that at least 29 counties gain while moderating 18 counties, which are losing Sh1 billion each.

However, Raila has reportedly advised Senate Minority Leader James Orengo to advise his membership to oppose the formula as it disadvantages counties that are perceived to be his political bedrock.

Close ally

They include Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale, Tana River, Taita Taveta, and Vihiga among others.  Contacted by People Daily, Kisii Senator Sam Ongeri, who is a close ally of Odinga did not confirm or deny receiving any instructions to shoot down the proposal currently before the senate.

“There should be no loser or gainer in whatever formula. We will ensure equity and equality prevails,” Ongeri, who chairs the powerful Senate County Public Accounts and Investment committee (CPAIC) said.

In the contentious proposal, the parameters of population and basic revenue share has been allocated 20 percent, population at 16 percent, agriculture 16 percent, agriculture 12 percent, poverty 14, access to roads 7, land mass 5, and Revenue effort and fiscal prudence at one percent.

Representatives from counties with large landmass but sparse population have vehemently opposed the formula complaining that if adopted by the Senate, their regions will lose up to Sh17 billion cumulatively. 

Minority Whip Mutula Kilonzo said rescheduling the meeting will not solve the problems as there must be a solution given the strict constitutional timelines.

Meanwhile, six governors from the coastal region separately called on the senators to shelve the contentions formula.

Under the banner of the Jumuiya Ya Kaunti Za Pwani (JKP), the county chiefs unanimously rejected the new formula terming it as unfair and retrogressive to the spirit of devolution and unconstitutional.

They claim the formula in its current form is evidently a major threat to devolution and systematically progresses the economic marginalisation of the Coast Region with a total revenue reduction of Sh.4.7 billion Annually.

“We note with concern that the Commission for Revenue Allocation ignored the very basic principles of Article 201, 203 and 217 of the Constitution,” leaders said in a press statement.

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