Fireworks expected as Senate debates county revenue-sharing formula again

Senators are bracing for another make-or-break session on the county funds allocation revenue-sharing formula this afternoon. The sitting will be a defining moment in Kenya’s history after the House adjourned on July 28 when the lawmakers voted and differed on the third basis revenue-sharing formula hitting a deadlock for the sixth time.

Siaya Senator James Orengo, who is the Minority Leader, tacitly blamed President Uhuru Kenyatta for being inaccessible, which possibly harmed lobbying.

This morning, there were claims that some senators were accepting bribes to pass the controversial formula to the chagrin of their colleagues.

Bribery claims

Narok Senator Ledama Olekina tweeted: “It will be suicidal for any Senator to accept a bribe of Ksh 5M to fuel the division of Kenya due to the revenue share discourse! May your family never have peace if you accept a bribe to divide Kenya!”

The voting to pass the Revenue Bill comes after a sixth stab to have the bill passed collapsed on July 27 after some senators rejected the proposed third basis formula.

In the report prepared by the Finance and Budget Committee, the formula recommended by the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) will see 29 counties gain in financial allocation while 18 will lose.

The formula, based on population, stipulates that populous counties will have more funds allocated to them as opposed to the less populous ones.

Senate Majority Whip Irungu Kangata has been on the forefront leading senators who support the passage of third-generation formula, arguing that counties which will experience decline in revenue will be compensated by the Equalization Fund.

On the other hand, Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja, Elgeyo Marakwek Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki and Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr have opposed the third generation formula arguing that it sows the seeds of division among Kenyans.

While defending his stand, Sakaja argued that no county ought to lose even a shilling that devolution would be dealt a huge blow should the formula be passed.

“The basic principle that we all agree upon as a Senate is that no county should lose a shilling of its allocation and Mr Speaker the formulae then kicks in once we’ve devolved enough money to go to the counties,” said Sakaja on July 28.

While Murkomen has barely been vocal over the issue, the former senate deputy speaker Kindiki has accused Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata of using the issue to intimidate Jubilee members seen to be voicing a contrary and independent opinion.

That Sakaja, Kindiki and Murkomen are leading a contrary school of thinking has put them on a collision course with Jubilee leadership.

Yesterday, Jubilee Vice Chairman David Murathe vowed a disciplinary action against senators opposing the third generation formula, which enjoys the full backing of President Uhuru Kenyatta.

“One Kenya Movement” banner to shoot down the Senate Finance and Budgets Committee report.”

“We are not yet done; we will deal with the senators for going against the party position. They will have themselves to blame for their parochial decisions. We will kick them out of the party. Read our party constitution, it gives room to deal with them,” he said.

Senator Sakaja’s stand on the issue has made him a subject of discussion of late, where his name has dominated the trendy topics on Twitter.

On Sunday, Kenyans woke up to a trendy #SakajaBetraysNairobi, which the legislator rubbished as a sponsored initiative to malign his name.

ODM’s dilemma

ODM has also been entrapped in a dilemma after its senators voted overwhelmingly for the formula, infuriating some MPs from Coastal and North Eastern regions who have vowed to exit the party.  But party chairman John Mbadi distanced it and its leader from the revenue sharing issue.

“The revenue-sharing formula is a Senate problem and not of ODM or Raila’s making. Making the failure of the passage of the formula an ODM issue is dishonest and political mischief,” Mbadi said.

At one stage of the debate, Senate Minority Leader James Orengo (Siaya, ODM) blamed President Uhuru Kenyatta for the impasse because of his inaccessibility. This led many to wonder whether Orengo was speaking at the behest of his party leader Raila Odinga.

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