Governors worried over standoff on division of revenue Bill 2019-COG

The standoff between the National assembly and devolution watchdog the Senate over revenue allocation Bill has paralyzed activities at the Counties.

This is according to Council of Governors’ Chairperson who is also Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya.

Speaking in Nakuru on Thursday during the ongoing Governors’ meeting, the COG chair noted that no funds have been channeled to the counties hence making it difficult for counties to operate.

“As we speak now no money has been channeled to counties yet we are in the last week of July meaning systems will be paralyzed” said Oparanya.

According to Governors, the delay in disbursement of funds to counties is a challenge that should be addressed.They admitted that the money that was last disbursed came late and ended up paying pending bills for staff as revenues collected by counties are only 5%.

“Most of the money we received at the last minute were used to pay pending bills” said Oparanya.

Meanwhile the Governors have opposed the proposal by Chief Justice David Maraga to have the standoff solved out of the court.According to the COG Chair, the governors moved to the Supreme Court to have interpretation of the law and advisory opinion.

He says the matters the Governors raised have to do with Constitution hence their move to the Supreme Court is in order.

“We have not moved to the Supreme Court to have more money but we are seeking advisory opinion on several issues touching on constitution which you cannot sit down and agree with anyone” said Oparanya.

The two day Governors’ meeting will see governors discuss various challenges that counties are facing in relation to success of devolution.

The circus surrounding the Division of Revenue Bill 2019 has continued even after the Senate debated and passed its own version in a record 40 minutes.

It settled on Sh335 billion as the equitable shareable revenue for counties in the 2019/20 financial year.However, even as the Senate passed the bill, the National Assembly was not left behind as a similar bill was introduced, with a proposal to allocate Sh316 billion as funds for counties.

The National Assembly Bill was introduced by the chairman of the Budget and Appropriations Committee, Mr Kimani Ichung’wa, after Speaker Justin Muturi slammed the 2013 Supreme Court advisory on the role of the Senate in enactment of the bill.

Mr Muturi argued that the advisory, which declared that the Division Bill is an ordinary bill and that the Senate has a role in its debate, was dangerous and was akin to killing devolution.

The initial bill, which was drafted by the National Treasury, did not sail through after the two Houses failed to agree on the amount of funds due to counties.

The National Treasury allocated Sh310 billion, down from Sh314 billion that counties received in the 2018/19 fiscal year.

However, while the National Assembly supported the reduced figure, the Senate rejected the Sh310 billion because it was a reduction from the previous year’s amount and it was contrary to the Commission of Revenue Allocation’s (CRA) recommendation of Sh335 billion.

The mediation committee that was formed by the two Speakers failed to agree and the bill collapsed.

But the absence of the Act has made it difficult for the counties to proceed with their budgeting process in a move that could ground their operations because of the cash crunch.

PHOTO/Pristone Mambili:Council of Governors Chairperson who is also Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya addressing media in Nakuru on Thursday.

Pristone Mambili

A freelance Journalist with experience in Radio and online news writing.