Politics

County bosses and senators to protest over revenue bill stalemate

County bosses and senators to protest over revenue bill stalemate
  • Mr Oparanya says counties were staring at a dark future because they do not have funds to perform any function.

  • He warned that they will not manage to pay June salaries should assemblies fail to agree on the Division of Revenue Bill, 2019 on time.

  • He said the push and pull between the National Assembly and Senate has driven the sharing of funds between the national and county governments into a quagmire.

Governors will on Monday join senators in march to Parliament building to protest the stalemate of the Division of Revenue Bill, 2019.

The Council of Governors said Friday that they will take part in the protest march to demand an explanation from MPs why they are opposed to release of funds to counties.

“We will join senators on Monday and protest against the National Assembly for 'killing' devolution,” Bungoma Governor Wycliffe Wangamati said.

CASH DELAYS

Mr Wangamati was among seven governors, who attended an event in Kakamega on Friday. The county bosses lamented about the stalemate between the Senate and the National Assembly over revenue sharing between the two levels of government.

The governors also complained about the perennial delays by the National Treasury in releasing funds to counties, which they said has hampered development at local level.

The Council of Governors claimed the National Assembly is being used by the national government to frustrate the implementation of devolution which is meant to spur development at the grassroot level.

Governor Paul Chepkwony (Kericho), Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kisumu), Cornel Rasanga (Siaya), Wycliffe Wangamati (Bungoma), Ibrahim Roba (Mandera), Mwangi wa Iria (Murang’a) were in Kakamega to joined CoG chairman Wycliffe Oparanya at the passing out parade of graduates under the Kakamega County Youth Service and Women Empowerment Programme and Community Area Administrators.

Mr Wangamati, who doubles as the chairman of Finance and Resource mobilisation in the CoG, said the Constitution created counties and allocated functions, which must be implemented by the governors.

“What we are experiencing today is equivalent to what happened in 1966 when the leadership killed majimbo,” he said.

Mr Oparanya said counties were staring at a dark future because they do not have funds to perform any function and warned that they will not manage to pay June salaries should assemblies fail to agree on the Division of Revenue Bill on time.

He said the push and pull between the National Assembly and Senate has driven the sharing of funds between the national and county governments into a quagmire.

ROW

The two Houses are sharply divided over the crucial Division of Revenue Bill, 2019. While senators are pushing the 47 counties allocated Sh335 billion in the next financial year, their counterparts in the national assembly want the devolved units allocated Sh310 billion.

Mr Oparanya said this financial year, counties received Sh314 billion and wanted the amount increased to Sh335 billion – an idea that is supported by both the Senate and the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA).

The CoG chair wondered why the National Assembly wants the allocation to counties reduced to Sh310 yet the MPs understand the role the devolved units were playing to spur development growth at the grassroots.

Prof Nyong’o said unemployment in the country was a ticking time bomb which can be contained if devolution was supported by all leaders.

“Unfortunately, the national government is not respecting the recommendations of the Commission on Revenue Allocation and instead pushing for the Appropriation Bill before funds can be allocated to county governments. This is wrong for a country which has set a blueprint for its development,” said the Kisumu governor.

'PLAYING CARDS'

He said MPs were playing cards with devolution by delaying to agree with the Senate and governors about the Sh335 billion allocated by the CRA to counties.

“We are launching a fight with them because proper economics of development begin with empowering ordinary persons so that they are able to pay fees, buy unga and board matatu. But when the MPs engage in playing cards with the allocation of funds to counties, the common mwananchi remains suffering,” Prof Nyong'o added.

Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala said many Kenyans could be empowered if the executive stopped meddling in devolution.

“President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto promised to create jobs when they assumed the presidency. Today, youths are still jobless. It is out of devolution that counties are creating job opportunities to the youth,” said Mr Malala.

'SUPREMACY WARS'

He said senators had resolved to team up with governors to demand for allocation of funds to the devolved units and accused the National Assembly of being used to block the same.

However, Ikolomani MP Bernard Shinali who attended the function asked senators to engage with them without showing supremacy.

“Let us not engage in supremacy wars because we are all beneficiaries of the funds to the counties. We need to review the policy on allocation so that there are no wars between the Senate and the National Assembly. Why don’t we disagree when we allocate ourselves allowances?” questioned Mr Shinali.

Prof Chepkwony of Kericho noted that the tag of war between the two houses of Parliament was affecting development projects at the grassroots because governors were not able to launch new projects or complete those they started.

“What we have witnessed in Kakamega today proves that devolution is working at the grassroots and should be promoted. We want more money allocated to county governments so that more people can be empowered,” he said.