The one man, one shilling revenue sharing formula is best for Kenya

The new Kenyan bank notes in circulation. The one man, one shilling formula will ensure that we all benefit equally.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Allocating revenues to counties based on their population rather than their landmass or the size of their agriculture sector will have a number of benefits.

The Senate has reached deadlock for the seventh time recently while discussing the revenue sharing formula between State and counties. The impasse concerns whether Kenya should use the current system in which county administrations are allowed to handle huge amounts of money, or whether we should follow the proposal which allocates revenues proportionally based on the population of each county.

The new formula is a more sensible approach as far as our country’s long-term economic interests are concerned.

In recent weeks, media reports have been packed with the flawed assumption that if the new “one man, one shilling” budgetary policy were to be implemented, some counties with relatively smaller populations would lose out.

After 2013, devolution meant that a certain degree of power and funding were transferred from national to local governments, allowing the latter to independently oversee budgetary policies relevant to their local communities.

Despite concerns, the current proposal will not starve some counties of cash. However, the Central government will merely decrease the budget of county governments with smaller populations while reclaiming oversight over the remainder of their funds.

Allocating revenues to counties based on their population rather than their landmass or the size of their agriculture sector will have a number of benefits. First, it will ensure that county administrations are more attuned to the policy issues most immediately concerning citizens.

The one man, one shilling formula will ensure that we all benefit equally from basic county services and moreover, hold our local governments accountable if we see discrepancies.

The idea is for central government to reclaim oversight over the funding of broader policy areas such as improving the quality of our road system and other infrastructure, or the development of our agricultural sector. This will guarantee that such vital sectors to our economic productivity will come under a comprehensive policy directive.

Indeed, agriculture and mobility are projected to play a key role in our country’s return to pre-Covid-19 levels of economic performance.

The new revenue sharing proposal will help fight corruption. Despite the high hopes many of us had for devolution, we have all seen reports about the rising corruption cases. Decentralising development funding often meant that county budgets received less scrutiny from the State.

As we have all witnessed, funding has sometimes ended up in the pockets of officials and private business people rather than benefitting local communities.

Furthermore, counties have often had trouble overseeing the extensive amounts of international development funding allocated to them. Multiple tenders provided by the World Bank were for example not put to use on time and had to be returned to the lender.

By approving the new revenue sharing formula, we could ensure that our country does not lose out and that no excess funding slips through the cracks.

It is important to reiterate that this plan will not culminate in more disadvantaged areas receiving less attention and funding. Instead of the often inefficient and ineffective responses formerly provided by county administrations, the central government will preside over these.

With access to information from all counties and the know-how regarding what strategies work, the central government is better suited to decisively tackle underlying issues that cut across county borders.

More stringent rules of oversight will also help guarantee that this money goes where it belongs. The central government arguably has a higher stake in making sure that our citizens at the local level are satisfied.

If ineffective policies were to continue in one locality under central oversight, the ever-incumbent government would risk undermining their support basis elsewhere too. This is why the current proposal would provide for a higher quality of accountability in some of the most pressing economic matters.

With the far-reaching and negative economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, it has never been more important to sponsor sensible policies. A vote for Uhuru’s revenue sharing plan in the Senate is undoubtedly a vote in favour of our long-term economic interests.

Mr Mureu comments on socio-political issues [email protected]