Kenya: Secret Hand in New County Revenue Sharing Changes

Members of the Senate during a past session in Nairobi (file photo).
12 August 2020

The high-stakes battle over the third generation formula for sharing county revenue is expected to get uglier after it emerged that a plot has been hatched to force the Senate to adopt a predetermined outcome.

The Senate adjourned on Tuesday before it made a decision on the matter that has characterised debate in the House for the past eight weeks.

There were claims that the process is hostage to the politics around the March 9, 2018 handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga.

At the centre of the plot is the amendment to the Finance Committee's report as suggested by Nominated Senator Petronila Were?

Ms Were is seeking the approval of the House to have the second generation formula retained in sharing out the Sh316.5 billion to the devolved governments this financial year.

Force through proposals

The Nation Wednesday learnt that powerful forces in Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga's camps are plotting to force through Ms Were's proposals should the push for the Finance Committee's position crumble.

It is partly the reason the pro-Kenyatta lawmakers pushed hard to have Ms Were's proposals debated on Tuesday despite the fact that they had been approved the same day.

It leapfrogged at least eight other amendments that have been on the floor for as a long as eight weeks.

That the motion was seconded by Nominated Senator Isaac Mwaura, who has vowed to reject anything less than what the committee proposed, lends credence to the importance of Ms Were's changes to the government.

Speed up amendments

The Nation has also been informed that the amendments would be speeded up when the House reconvenes to make a decision on Monday.

It is said the government will leave nothing to chance to ensure Ms Were's changes are adopted even as it plots to finally shoot down Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja's amendment when it comes up for a vote next week.

Deputy Majority Leader Fatuma Adan Dullo, who is opposed to the Finance Committee's report and Ms Were's amendments, on Tuesday said she read a sinister motive in the nominated senator's proposals.

She said all amendments were to be filed by Monday but Ms Were's was submitted on Tuesday and approved for debate on the same day.

"There was and there is a plot to buy time to intimidate and win members to their side," Ms Dullo said.

"There was a sinister motive on several points of order raised by a section of members even before looking at the substantive business of the day. If amendments were to come, it should have been Monday. The Speaker seems to be working on instructions from outside."

'Senate under siege'

Mandera Senator Mohammed Mahamud tweeted on Tuesday: "The senate is under siege. There is a leadership crisis of insurmountable magnitude."

Ms Were wants the Sh316.5 billion allocated to counties in this financial year shared using the second generation formula.

She says the formula developed by the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) should only apply if the money is raised to Sh348 billion.

Her proposal partly aligns with CRA's latest idea on the formula that has generated more heat than light.

"There will be no vacuum in law if the Senate does not by resolution determine the third basis for allocating revenue to counties. The Senate, therefore, has a window to use the second revenue sharing basis to allocate money to counties for the financial year 2020/21," the commission said in a statement on Monday.

"The commission should be accorded a chance to conduct public participation... on the amendments being proposed on the third revenue sharing basis and develop an alternative that is acceptable to all."

Revenue shrink

If lawmakers pass Senator Were's amendments, Mandera county's revenue would shrink by up to Sh1.27 billion should the allocation be increased to Sh348 billion.

Wajir will have a Sh732 million reduction, Kwale (Sh559 million), Marsabit (Sh414 million), Narok (Sh151 million), Tharaka-Nithi (Sh143 million), Nyamira (Sh120 million), Mombasa (Sh48 million) and Tana River (Sh29 million).

Nairobi would gain Sh2.9 billion, Kiambu (Sh2.3 billion), Nakuru (Sh1.8 billion), Uasin Gishu (Sh1.6 billion), Kakamega (Sh1.48 million), Kajiado (Sh1.47 billion), Nandi (Sh1.4 billion), Bungoma (Sh1.3 billion), Trans Nzoia (Sh1.2 billion and Machakos (Sh1.17 billion).

The 2020 budget policy statement projects that allocation to counties will cap at Sh333 billion by the 2023/24 financial year, meaning it would be a long haul to achieving Ms Were's proposal.

Not practical

Senate Minority Whip Mutula Kilonzo Jr said the proposal is not practical.

"It is unrealistic and overambitious," Mr Kilonzo said, adding that the amendments are meant to mislead lawmakers that "something is on the table when there is nothing".

Majority Leader Irungu Kang'ata said an anti-Mt Kenya feeling is the cause of the opposition to the committee's report.

"The enemy is not the handshake. When the right time comes, I will reveal the enemy. They smile in our face but have a knife hidden behind their back," he said.

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