Senate fails to agree on county revenue sharing formula, again


What you need to know:

  • The debate had throughout the afternoon been characterised by accusation of bias on the part of the Speaker, with emotions boiling over.

For a record eighth time, the Senate Tuesday failed to make a decision on the controversial third basis of sharing revenue among counties.

Speaker Kenneth Lusaka abruptly interrupted the sitting of the House late in the evening as the senators haggled over procedural issues, amid claims that there was already a pre-determined position that the State was pushing.

Until Mr Lusaka ended the sitting unceremoniously, the debate had throughout the afternoon been characterised by accusation of bias on the part of the Speaker, with emotions boiling over.

Name calling, jeers

The heated debate at times degenerated into name calling, jeers, heckling and ethnic slurs.

“Looking at the business before the House and the time remaining (to 9pm when the Covid-19 curfew takes effect), it is not possible that we will conclude the business before the House,” Mr Lusaka said, amid jeers from Team Kenya, the senators who have opposed the formula developed by the Committee of Finance.

Mr Lusaka directed that the House reconvenes on Thursday to complete the debate on the motion and take a vote.

By this time the lawmakers were debating an amendment brought by Nominated Petronila Were, in which she is seeking the approval of the House to have the second generation formula retained to share out the Sh316.5 billion for the counties in this financial year.

Before the debate on Ms Were’s proposal, the House had approved the proposal by Meru Senator Mithika Linturi, which proposes that the formula should only apply to any allocations that are above Sh270 billion.

Further amendment

Mr Linturi’s amendment, which is a further amendment to the one brought by Nairobi Johnson Sakaja, wants the counties to equally share Sh270 billion and the remaining Sh46.5 billion subjected to the formula developed by the Commission on revenue Allocation (CRA).

In his proposal, Mr Sakaja wants the formula applied to allocations above Sh316.5 billion, which is the entire allocation to the 47 devolved units in this financial year, as the base.

He had wanted the counties to share the money in the same way they shared in the last financial year.

But 25 senators, mostly from the counties that have been labelled as losers in the formula developed by the committee on Finance, voted in support of Mr Linturi’s amendment, while 20 senators, mainly from the counties that were to gain significantly, voted to reject the amendment.

The lawmakers who support the Linturi amendment argued that they are opposed to a situation where one county is robbed to benefit the other, arguing that such a scenario would cause divisions.

More funds to counties

“What we should be doing as a Senate is to gang up as a block to force the national government to release more funds to counties,” Tharaka-Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki said, adding that the formula of the Committee was based on a wrong premise.

“The battle should be between the counties and the national government and not among counties.”

Similar sentiments were expressed by Minority Leader James Orengo who, even though opposed to the amendment, regretted that the national government had pitted senators against each other and they were “fighting over a squirrel instead of an elephant”.

Cold war

“There is a cold war in the Senate. We are fighting each other over a formula that merely entrenches the infamous Sessional Paper No 10 of 1965,” he said, referring to a document that has been blamed for the huge disparities in the country’s development.

The simulation of the Linturi amendment significantly reduces the range between those who will lose out and those who will gain. A total of 29 counties will gain.

But the gains and losses are not as significant as those to be occasioned by the deal recommended by the Finance committee.

Under the Linturi proposal Mandera will lose Sh245 million, Kwale (177 million), Wajir (Sh175 million), Marsabit (Sh156 million), Kilifi (Sh153 million), Mombasa (Sh135 million), Narok (Sh130 million), Makueni (Sh107 million), Nyamira (Sh97 million) and Tana River (79 million).

Allocation due to Kiambu increases marginally by Sh160 million, Nandi and Nakuru (Sh149 million), Uasin Gishu (Sh142 million), Nairobi (S120 Million), Trans Nzoia (Sh94 million), Kajiado (Sh87 million), West Pokot and Baringo (Sh83 million), and Kirinyaga (Sh79 million), respectively.

But the debate on the motion was overshadowed by claims of regionism and ethnicity as some of the senators, mainly from the Northern Kenya, claimed that counties from the Central region were more developed because of their proximity to Nairobi and the fact that they had produced presidents in the past.