Revenue: Parliament picks teams for fresh cash row talks

By , K24 Digital
On Fri, 16 Aug, 2019 08:00 | 2 mins read
Murang’a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria with his Kakamega and Kisii counterparts Wycliffe Oparanya and James Ongwae, repectively, at Supreme Court buildings in Nairobi, yesterday. Photo/CHARLES MATHAI

Anthony Mwangi and Bernice Mbugua 

Mediation talks on the contentious Division of Revenue Allocation are set to start after the two Houses of Parliament picked their respective teams. 

The development came hours after the Supreme Court directed Senate Speaker to pick a mediation team. 

Earlier yesterday, Chief Justice David Maraga had ruled that the court was willing to give an advisory opinion on the matter that has nearly crippled operations in the counties but stressed that Parliament must first complete its constitutional process. 

“This court is really willing to give an advisory opinion on this matter as soon as possible but the constitutional process has to be completed,” ruled Maraga and ordered a report on the progress be ready by September 16 when the matter will be mentioned. 

Left out

Hours later, the National Assembly replaced two members in the team it had picked for the initial talks that flopped.  

Leader of Majority Aden Duale will lead John Mbadi (Suba), Kimani Ichung’wa (Kikuyu), Cecily Mbarire (Nominated), Junet Mohammed (Suna East) and Amos Kimunya (Kipipiri) in the talks on behalf of the National Assembly. 

The Senate picked its Finance committee chairman Mohammed Mohamud, Johnstone Sakaja (Nairobi), Ledama ole Kina (Narok), Mutula Kilonzo (Makueni), Charles Kabiru (Kirinyaga), Margret Kamar (Uasin-Gishu) Mithika Linturi (Meru), Okong’o Omogeni (Nyamira) and Rose Nyamunga (Nominated). 

Interestingly, Senate Leader of majority Kipchumba Murkomen, who has been vocal in the debate, has been left out of the team. 

Senate and the National Assembly are locked in a dispute over what share of revenue should go to counties. The National Assembly is proposing Sh316.5 billion while the Senate is insisting on an Sh335.6 billion. 

Fast track process

The Council of Governors (CoG) has lauded the two Houses for their bid to resolve the row and asked Parliament to fast track the mediation process.  

“The Council of Governors appreciates the efforts were undertaken by the Senate, National Assembly and Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) with regard to the discussions on the Division of Revenue Bill, 2019 and the unwavering support made so far in trying to resolve the current stalemate,” CoG chairman Governor Wycliffe Oparanya said in a statement to newsrooms. 

When the matter came up in the Supreme Court yesterday, the Senate, through its lawyers Senators James Orengo, Kithure Kindiki and Mutula Kilonzo, told the court that senators have largely complied with the directive with each party initiating its own fresh plea. 

Issue advisory

But even as the initiative to end the stalemate was being restarted, the Attorney General (AG) failed to issue an advisory that was to give away forward as to whether Treasury could withdraw 50 per cent of the allocation to the counties. 

During a meeting called by the Senate Finance committee and attended by among others, representatives from the AG’s office, GoG and the Controller of Budget, it was resolved that Sh155 billion representing 50 per cent of the funding be withdrawn from the Consolidated Fund but after an advisory by the AG. 

Acting Treasury Cabinet secretary Ukur Yattani said he was ready to release 50 per cent of Sh310 billion for counties but not without legal backing and asked the AG to advise on the legal implications if any.  “We need the AG to advise on this,” said Yattani.

Jinette Mwangi, an officer from the AG’s office, promised that the AG would be issuing an advisory by this morning.