Politics

Senators faulted as talks on revenue crisis abort

Senators faulted as talks on revenue crisis abort
  • Wednesday’s session was the second after a messy one held last week, which saw the two sides openly trade barbs.

  • At the time of adjournment only two senators Mohamed Mahamud (Mandera), and Okong’o Omogeni (Nyamira) were in the room, with Mr Duale reading mischief.

A parliamentary session organised to find a common ground on the allocation of revenue to county governments failed to take off Wednesday after senators failed to turn up.

The mediation committee comprising members from the National Assembly and Senate was set up to come up with a mediated version of the republished Division of Revenue Bill 2019.

TRADE BARBS

The older version of the bill was lost in June when the two Houses failed to agree on what the devolved units should be allocated as equitable share in the current financial year.

The stalemate saw two versions of the bill republished, with the National Assembly sticking to Sh316.5 billion and Senate to Sh335.7 billion as what the counties should get.

The two versions were later passed in the two Houses and exchanged among themselves for concurrence purposes.

But on Thursday, National Assembly committee members led by Leader of Majority Aden Duale, (Garissa Township) his minority colleague John Mbadi (Suba North), minority whip Junet Mohamed (Suna East) and Kimani Ichung’wah (Kikuyu) accused the Senate of frustrating the talks with the intention of “killing devolution”.

As the two Houses haggle over a compromise version, operations at the counties have grounded as they have no money to pay staff, suppliers and undertake development activities.

MESSY ONE

“This is a serious issue because it touches on the operations of the counties. It’s surprising that our counterparts from the Senate are not here to help solve this problem,” Mr Duale said, adding: “This does not look ordinary.”

The mediation committee has 18 members, nine from each side.

Wednesday’s session was the second after a messy one held last week, which saw the two sides openly trade barbs.

At the time of adjournment only two senators Mohamed Mahamud (Mandera), and Okong’o Omogeni (Nyamira) were in the room, with Mr Duale reading mischief.

“It was not ordinary that seven out of nine senators were engaged elsewhere when they were aware of the sitting.”

PUBLIC GALLERY

Senators Margaret Kamar (Uasin Gishu), Johnson Sakaja (Nairobi), Mithika Linturi (Meru), Charles Kibiru (Kirinyaga), Mutula Kilonzo Jnr (Makueni), Ledama ole Kina (Narok) and Rose Nyamunga (nominated) failed to turn up.

All the eight members from the National Assembly were present.

But Senator Mahamud defended his team, noting that he had reached out to Mr Duale to have the sitting postponed to next week as some of his colleagues were abroad while others were engaged locally. “I told Duale that our members were out … Let us not play to the public gallery,” he said.

But the team’s chairperson, Mr Ichung’wah said there was no way the meeting would be postponed through phone calls as it is against the Standing Orders of Parliament.