Deputy President William Ruto on Friday said the government supports lawmakers push to give 10 per cent of oil proceeds to local communities as demanded by Turkana leaders.
Speaking in Lodwar when he attended the ongoing annual Turkana Cultural Festival, DP Ruto said they had accepted to raise the allocation following months of pressure from the local community.
"We have heard your requests and we will raise it to 10 per cent. We are always a government that listens to the people," he said.
The allocation was contained in the Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production) Bill, 2017l that is before the National Assembly but which President Kenyatta refused to assent to, demanding the share to be reduced to five per cent.
Initially, the proposed law indicated that the national government was entitled to 75 per cent from oil sales, 20 per cent for the county government and the remaining five for the locals where oil is mined.
Leaders led by Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok have been pushing for a raise, saying the allocation for the host community was inadequate.
The concession came after MPs in the National Assembly's Energy Committee approved the requested 10 per cent in the Petroleum Bill.
“Delete sub clause 3 of Section 85 and substitute therefor with the following clause-The local community’s share shall be equivalent to ten (10) per cent of the Government’s share and shall be payable to a trust fund managed by a board of trustees established by the county government in consultation with local community,” the committee chaired by Nakuru Town East MP David Gikaria said in a report.
But the DP was not ready to cede ground yet on the proposed capping of the proceeds for the county.
The Bill proposes that the amount of money for the county should not exceed what is allocated annually by the National Treasury, a provision opposed by all the county leaders.
"If we have agreed to increase the allocation to 10 per cent, why are you trying to force things? Is it not possible for us to talk and see what we can do about capping?" DP Ruto posed.
Turkana South MP James Lomenen led locals lawmakers in warning that the government would find it difficult to export the oil if the capping clauses were passed and signed into law.
"If there will be capping of the money for Turkana people then be assured we will also cap the oil taken from our region," Mr Lomenen told the DP.
Governor Nanok also pushed for the deletion of the controversial clause, saying excuses that the county does not have the ability to absorb the oil money were wrong and unacceptable.
"We have the capacity to take all the money from the national government and the oil fields. This county needs at least Sh70 billion every year to ensure it develops. The poverty level is still high," said the county boss.
They got support from other leaders including Tharaka-Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki and Baringo Governor Stanley Kiptis who pushed for the scrapping of the clause.
"We should ensure that the capping of the proceeds is deleted," said Senate Depute Speaker Prof Kindiki.
The festival, branded Tobong'u Lore (Turkana for welcome home) also attracted various participants from South Sudan, Ethiopia and Uganda who joined Turkanas to celebrate their culture.