Eric Wainaina and Wangari Njuguna @PeopleDailyke
President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday waded into the Division of Revenue Bill row pitting governors, senators and the National Assembly after he told the county chiefs to forget any additional funds which they have been demanding.
The Council of Governors and senators have been at loggerheads with the National Assembly over the amount of money to be allocated to the devolved units, with the former two pushing for an additional Sh19 billion.
But speaking in Gatanga, Murang’a county, during the funeral of former presidential candidate Peter Kenneth’s mother Rahab Wambui, the President termed the demands by governors a joke.
“We do not print money, (and so) where do these governors want us to get the kind of money they are demanding? They are joking (because) we have given them what we can manage and there is nowhere to get more cash,” he said.
The Senate and the National Assembly have been reading from parallel scripts on the issue, with the two Houses working on two different bills in what has escalated their supremacy wars which have also been taken to court.
In an initial bill, which was drafted by the National Treasury, never saw the light of the day in the two Houses following differences on the amount to be paid to counties. Not even negotiations which were led by their Speakers were able to broker a deal.
National Treasury allocated Sh310 billion, down from Sh314 billion that counties received in the 2018/19 but this week, the Senate in a fresh bill, which has the backing of the CoG, approved Sh335 billion as the equitable shareable for the 2019/20.
The governors, through their council has warned the stalemate will cripple operations in counties and on Wednesday, the chairman Wycliffe Oparanya said unless the issue is addressed, they are unable to pay Sh108 billion owed to contractors and suppliers.
But the Head of State said governors should first utilise what has been allocated to them even by the National Assembly as he maintained that the war on graft which saw Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich charged, will continue, saying he will not allow public funds to be looted by few individuals.
“(You governors) first utilise what you have been allocated to serve the people. (And) we will fight graft so that public funds will not go to pockets of few individuals and to enlarged their stomachs,” the President said, and asked Kenyans to back his unity bid in order to achieve the fight against all vices in the country.
Deputy President William Ruto said there is a chance to make Kenya better if all worked together and supported the President to achieve it.
“The President as the national leader is on a mission to unite the country and leaders from all political parties and religion will support your efforts. This will end tribal and divisive politics,” said the DP, adding that Jubilee government would still continue to implement its development agenda.
During the funeral, leaders including former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi, Muran’ga Governor Mwangi wa Iria, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development secretary general Mukhisa Kituyi, Senator Irungu Kang’ata and Woman Rep Sabina Chege asked the President not to relent in his war against graft.
Raila, who also endorsed the appointment of Kenneth to the Cabinet, especially after Rotich’s exit, said leaders should not blame one another in the ongoing war against graft, saying they should all support it because it will enable the government to afford funds to undertake development.