Senate forms team to end stalemate

The Senate leadership has formed a nine-member technical committee to explore a compromise in the controversy surrounding the third criterion for sharing county revenue.

Deputy Speaker Margaret Kamar will chair the committee that will include eight senators picked equally from both sides of the divide.

The majority and minority parties in the Senate are expected to meet Thursday and pick their representatives to the team.

The revelation on the formation of the panel was made late Thursday by Speaker Kenneth Lusaka after a meeting of the top House leadership and just a day after lawmakers adopted a motion suspending the debate to find consensus.

“We have decided to put up a small team which will retreat to Naivasha, starting today,” Mr Lusaka told the Nation.

Informal meeting

The team’s terms of reference include discussing the two proposals on the table — the formula developed by the Commission of Revenue Allocation (CRA) and the report of the Finance Committee, which came up with a synthesised version after considering the CRA proposal.

The team will review the amendments to the committee report and changes suggested by individual senators.

Prof Kamar’s team will then submit its findings to the Speaker’s informal meeting, which has tentatively been set for either Monday on Tuesday morning where they will share the findings with senators.

Final decision

The final decision on the issue is expected on Tuesday before the House breaks for a month.

The formation of the committee comes barely a day after the House adopted a motion by Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen to suspend debate on the formula.

It was the seventh time the lawmakers failed to make a decision on an issue that exposes the soft underbelly of sharing national resources and the attendant high octane politics.

The Finance committee’s proposal has met opposition from counties mainly in arid and semi-arid regions and the coastal belt.

Top losers

In the formula developed by the committee, Mandera, Wajir and Marsabit are the three top losers.

If the committee’s proposal were to be adopted, Wajir will lose Sh1.9 billion, followed by Mandera (Sh1.87) billion and Marsabit (Sh1.81 billion).

Other losers will be Tana River (Sh1.5 billion), Garissa (Sh1.2 billion), Mombasa (Sh1.02 billion), Kwale (sh995m), Narok (Sh887m) and Isiolo (sh879m) and Kilifi (Sh878m).

On the opposite end, Nandi would the greatest winner with an expected additional allocation of Sh1.4 billion, Uasin Gishu (Sh1.28 billion), Nakuru (Sh1.26 billion), Kakamega (Sh997m), Kiambu (Sh986m), Bungoma (sh837m), Kirinyaga (Sh779m), West Pokot (Sh777m), Baringo (sh722m) and Bomet (Sh673m).

Seven proposals

At least seven proposals to amend the committee’s report on the formula are on the table.

Mr Sakaja’s amendment seeks to shield the counties from getting lesser allocation relative to what they received in 2019/20 financial year should the new proposal be approved.

The senator wants the Sh316.5 billion, the counties shared out in the last financial year, elevated to the baseline and which should not be subjected to the formula.

This means that any figure that the counties will get, will start by sharing out the Sh316.5 billion in the same way they shared out in the 2019/20 financial year, then any additional funds will have to be subjected to the formula.

Other proposals were by senators Githiomi Mwangi (Nyandarua), Ledama ole Kina (Narok), Abdulahi Ibrahim (Wajir), Kimani Wamatangi (Kiambu) and James Orengo (Siaya).

In his amendment, Mr Githiomi wants 70 per cent of total allocation to the counties (Sh316.5 billion) shared equally by all the 47 counties, while the remaining 30 per cent to be subjected to the criteria developed by CRA with population and health index getting the lion share.

Both Mr Ali and Mr ole Kina have a similar amendment, bar the percentage.

CRA criteria

Mr ole Kina wants the 90 per cent of the allocation shared based on the criteria developed by CRA, while 10 per cent of the allocation should be used to cushion counties that will have reductions in their allocations compared to what they received in the last financial year until such a time when the equitable share will reach Sh395 billion.

Mr Ali wants 95 per cent of the total allocations (Sh316.5 billion) shared out depending on the CRA criteria and the remaining five per cent to cushion counties that will have reductions in their allocations compared to what they received in the last financial year until such a time when the equitable share will reach Sh395 billion.

Mr Wamatangi deletes Mr Sakaja’s proposal that Sh316.5 billion should be the baseline which should not be subject to the proposed formula.

Mr Orengo wants the report of the committee on Finance taken to CRA and the Hansard of last week’s proceedings in which the Senators expressed concern on the formula submitted to CRA so that it can review its original recommendations and submit the report back to the Senate in three months.

“They should into account additional factors including pastoralism, the livestock sector, the blue economy, extractive industries, wildlife and conservation in determining the principles and parameters of equitable shareable revenue among counties,” the amended says.

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