Senators are mounting pressure to have the Equalisation Fund Bill, 2022, which is before the National Assembly, recalled to address concerns about the proposed law.
They said the Bill is discriminatory and needs to be redrafted in order to accommodate the interests of all counties.
Senator Godfrey Osotsi (Vihiga) said 11 counties will not benefit from the fund meant to address high poverty levels in marginalised areas.
He said all of his colleagues in the Senate have an issue with the bill and will be meeting today to agree on a bipartisan approach to the issue. Senators, the lawmaker claimed, are concerned that the Bill has only mentioned direct funding from National Treasury but is quiet on any indirect funding, including conditional grants.
“We are having a Kamukunji [informal meeting of the House] tomorrow [today]. Even senators whose counties will benefit are raising issues on funding,” Mr Osotsi said. “Even the Council of Governors has rejected the Bill through a memorandum.”
Mr Osotsi also criticised the bill for being silent on the criteria for picking beneficiaries.
The Equalisation Fund, the lawmaker noted, is meant to address marginalisation without leading to further discrimination, adding, all the counties have hardship areas that must be reached through supplementary funding. In Vihiga County, Mr Osotsi cited South Maragoli, Tambua, Jepkoyai and Muhudu as hardship areas.
The Bill, whose first reading was on November 30, is sponsored by Tiaty MP Kassait Kamket. It has since been committed to the Finance Committee for public scrutiny as the country seeks to operationalise Article 204 of the Constitution, 2010.
Efforts by the country to enact the law have dragged out for close to a decade with the first push by the National Treasury hitting a dead end owing to conflicting interests. Treasury had initially identified only 14 counties in arid and semi-arid areas as beneficiaries — Mandera, Lamu, Turkana, Garissa, Tana River, Wajir, Isiolo, West Pokot, Taita Taveta, Marsabit, Narok, Samburu, Baringo and Kwale.
But Mr Kamket’s Bill has pushed the number to 36 and included Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa, which are considered economically vibrant. If enacted in its current form, the Bill will establish a kitty that will draw funds from nationally generated revenue to a limit of one and a half per cent every financial year to go towards addressing social needs in drought-hit counties and supporting pastoralist activities.