The mediation committee set up to unlock the stalemate surrounding the County Revenue Bill which seeks to determine allocation of monies devolved units will get in the 2019/2020 financial year hit a snag after members failed to reach consensus, signalling trouble for counties.
The meeting that lasted for about three hours at Parliament buildings on Thursday between Members of the National Assembly and the Senate failed to settle on the Sh21 billion shortfall that the Senate was requesting from the Treasury, with the National Assembly adamant to give in to the counties’ demands.
National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale who is a member of the committee said the resolution that now portends that counties will be starved of cash did not come as a surprise insisting that the National Assembly is the rightful House that is mandated to handle budget affairs in the country.
The committee co-chaired by Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wah and Mandera Senator Mohamed Mohamud has been meeting for close to 10 days to unlock the allocation of funds dispute after the Senate demanded to be given Sh335 billion but the National Assembly stuck to Sh314 billion.
“There is nothing abnormal about the disagreement we have had with the Senators and that does not mean that the counties will be shut down. That’s a fallacy because the vertical division of revenue between the two levels of government as stipulate in Article 95 of the Constitution is a function of the National Assembly,” he said.
Consequently, Senators will have to wait for another six months before another Division of Revenue Bill is published to kickstart the process all over again.
“Tomorrow I will ask National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi to invoke his powers under the House Standing Order 1 to allow the Bill to be published afresh,” Duale said.
He maintained that counties will now have to contend with overdrafts which will be facilitated by the National Treasury as they wait for their fate in the next six months.
“Until the County Revenue Bill is passed, CS Treasury Henry Rotich will have to administratively give overdrafts to counties,” he said.
With counties now being put in a precarious situation, county bosses will be compelled to minimalize the little resources that they will be allocated until the impasse is resolved.
The Garissa Township lawmaker dispelled rumours that the National Assembly was working in cahoots with the Treasury to weaken the Senate by denying them funds insisting that the reports are unfounded.
He insisted that National Assembly was from the onset opposed to Senate’s demands of more funds in a bid to curb the skyrocketing country’s debt.
“The National Assembly is the budget making House and so that means we have more stake in budget making process that the Senate and this year we have taken a deliberate action to reduce the country’s deficit,” he said.
Duale asked Senators to act with sobriety following the mediation’s decision to avoid further escalations that threaten the already bitter relationship between the two Houses.
“Senators are legislators and not demonstrators and today is a very important day for the MPs in the budget making process. In fact, Senators are not allowed in the chamber they are supposed to be in the gathering. It is not the function of a Senator to disrupt budget but if they think they can disrupt the process that is a fallacy,” he said.
Earlier, Nandi Senator Samson Cherarkey faulted the Jubilee administration for not sufficiently whipping its members to arrive at a consensus especially since majority of the members who constituted the mediation team are drawn from the Jubilee Party.
“Honestly I squarely blame the Jubilee government and the leadership for this mess,” he said.
The team has five members from Jubilee Party and three from the Opposition.
The mediation team comprised MPs Duale (Jubilee), Ichung’wah (Jubilee), Cecily Mbarire (Jubilee), John Mbadi (ODM) and Senators Mahamud (Jubilee), Mutula Kilonzo Jnr (Wiper), Susan Kihika (Jubilee) and Ledama ole Kina (ODM).