Uhuru, Raila charm senators with sweet Sh50bn deal

By Hillary Mageka On Tue, 15 Sep, 2020 20:11 | 3 mins read
Deputy President
President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) hosts ODM leader Raila Odinga (right), CoG Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya and Senate leadership at State House, Nairobi on Tuesday, September 15, 2020 over revenue-sharing formula. PHOTO | PSCU

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s pledge to raise next year’s county shareable revenue by Sh50 billion on Tuesday acted as an inducement to aggrieved senators as the Senate agreed to pass the contentious revenue-sharing formula among counties.

The pledge was made at State House after the President met the Senate leadership in a meeting attended by Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga and Council of Governors Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya.

However, Deputy President William Ruto was conspicuously missing even as President Kenyatta reiterated that the additional funds will go towards strengthening devolution in the country.

According to the Head of State, the increment in county equitable shareable revenue will, however, depend on the financial performance of the economy.

State House Spokesperson Kanze Dena said the Senate was represented by Majority Leader Senator Samuel Poghisio (West Pokot) and Majority Chief Whip Senator Irungu Kang’ata (Muranga).

The Minority leader Senator James Orengo (Siaya), Poghisio’s deputy nominated Senator Fatuma Dullo, nominated Senator Beatrice Kwamboka who doubles up as deputy minority whip and Taita Taveta Senator Mwashushe Mwaruma were also present.

“The President urged senators to urgently resolve the revenue sharing stalemate at the Senate so as to avoid disruption of service delivery in the counties,” Kanze said in a statement.

On Tuesday, following the President’s pledge to allocate additional funds for the financial year 2021/22, senators backed the contentious formula fronted by the House Committee on Finance.

“We have agreed to take the President’s word as we will pass the formula as proposed by the Committee on Finance and Budget. With the pledge, no county will lose any amount of its annual allocation,” a senator who spoke on anonymity told People Daily.

This even as senators were on Tuesday held up in an informal meeting (Kamukunji) to discuss the contentious revenue formula before they resuming debate and make a vote.

While moving the adjournment motion on Tuesday, Majority Leader Poghisio said the House leadership was going to brief the members on their resolution on the divisive formula.

“The 12-member committee that was formed to deliberate this matter agreed and asked the leadership to go and meet with the Executive. We have done that and we have a report,” Poghisio told the House as he sought the backing of the senators to adjourn.

The senators, including those who had previously opposed the formula on claims that it will marginalize and disfranchise some 18 counties majorly from the arid and semi-arid areas, expressed their satisfaction with the President’s offer, noting that additional allocation “was the ultimate solution” to the stalemate.

“We are going on well in Kamukunji. We are in agreement with the leadership but I cannot go on the record because the matter is coming up on the floor,” another senator told the People Daily.

The Senate stalemate has adversely affected service delivery in the 47 devolved units after the counties plunged into a cash crisis.

According to a policy brief seen by the People Daily last week, the Senate leadership had endorsed the formula that cuts allocation to 18 counties by Sh17 billion and which has been at the centre of the standoff between the two factions.

The proposal is fronted by the House Finance and Budget Committee chaired by Kirinyaga senator Charles Kibiru.

“The formula proposed by the senate finance committee be adopted as the new basis for allocating revenue to counties,” the brief reads.

However, the leadership recommends that the formula be implemented in a phased manner to avoid disrupting county plans and budgets and recommends a two-year moratorium.

In a bid to ensure that revenue loses are minimized, the policy states if the proposal is adopted, no county should lose more than 10 percent of its previous allocations.

As senators prepared themselves to take the crucial vote, Deputy President William Ruto who was absent at the State House meeting said the government would ensure the revenue sharing mechanism translates to a win-win formula.

Speaking at his Karen residence during a prayer meeting attended by Narok County religious and political leaders, the DP said the Jubilee government was elected to serve both populous and non-populous counties without discrimination.

“When sharing revenue among counties, let us ensure that those who lose do not lose by a big margin and those gaining should not gain by a big margin so that we can move forward together as a country,” he told the gathering which included Senators Steve Lelegwe (Samburu), Mary Seneta (nominated) and Susan Kihika (Nakuru).

On his part, Lelegwe held senators would stand firm to ensure no county loses revenue in the disputed revenue sharing formula.

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