Yesterday, president Uhuru Kenyatta decided to reign on the current county revenue sharing stalemate. The head of state has been evasive on the issue as he has in most cases used his allies such as Jubilee MPs to pass his point across regarding the issue. Whereas ODM party leader Raila Odinga has supported the One Man, One Vote county revenue sharing formula, the Jubilee party leader has sent mixed signals regarding his stand.
During yesterday’s meeting, the president urged senators to reach a consensus with regards to the county revenue sharing matter in order to avoid a delay in service delivery among the counties. Without an agreed upon formula to be used to distribute revenue from the National Government, counties face the danger of running out of money for various services such as health care, education, among other social services.
According to Article 215 and 216 of the Kenyan constitution, the national government must make available to the counties at least 15% of all collected revenue per year. This money will need to be shared by all of the 47 counties in the country.
The Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) is tasked with the responsibility of recommending the basis for equitable sharing of revenues raised nationally between the National and the County Governments as well as sharing of revenue among the County Governments. But the Senate has the power to override CRA’s recommendations for sharing the money within the counties themselves.
This is done via a vote in the Senate after a vigorous debate with regards to the motion presented before the house.
Initially and before amendments at the senate, CRA had recommended that county revenue sharing be based on the population density of the counties whereby the more densely populated counties will get a lion’s share of the revenue while the sparsely populated ones will get less share of the national pie for the Financial Years 2021/22.
The rationale for this was that the more residents living in a particular county the more money needed to cater for social services in such counties than in less populated counties. But this was fiercely opposed by senators from less populated counties as they argued that such counties have been historically marginalized and hence neglected development-wise.
With the current One Man One Vote, One Shilling county revenue sharing formula, highly populated counties like Nairobi, Bungoma, Kiambu, Kakamega, Kisii and Nakuru stand to gain while sparsely populated counties such as Wajir, Mandera, Elgeyo Marakwet, and Samburu, among others will lose billions of shillings.
Surprisingly, senators from counties that will gain under this formula such as Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja and Susan Kihika of Nakuru, to name but a few, have stood in tandem with those from counties that will lose. The end result from this has been a stalemate at the Senate whereby the team in support of the current formula simply lacks the numbers needed to pass the motion and hence disburse the funds to the counties.
During yesterday’s meeting at State House, the Chairman of the Council of Governors Wycliffe Oparanya together with the former prime minister Raila Odinga resolved that depending on the financial performance of the economy, the National Government will, in the next Financial Year (2021/22), endeavor to allocate an additional Kshs 50 billion to Counties as part of efforts to strengthen devolution.
Others in attendance at today’s meeting included: Hon Samuel Poghisio (Majority Leader), Hon Irungu Kang’ata (Majority Chief Whip), James Orengo (Minority Leader) and Hon Fatuma Dullo (Deputy Majority Leader). Also in attendance were Senator Beatrice Kwamboka (Nominated) and Senator Johnes Mwashushe Mwaruma (Taita Taveta).