Lusaka, Muturi in bid to end revenue bill stalemate

Wednesday May 15 2019

Parliament

Members of the National Assembly in a session last year. Senators and MPs have formed a team to iron out issues on funding of county governments. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

IBRAHIM ORUKO
By IBRAHIM ORUKO
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The Speakers of the bicameral Parliament have appointed an eight-member mediation committee to develop a consensus on the divergent positions adopted by the Houses on the revenue bill.

The Senate has picked Finance and Budget Committee chairman Mohamed Mahamud, Minority Whip Mutula Kilonzo Jr, Majority Whip Susan Kihika and Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina.

And National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi chose Majority Leader Aden Duale, Minority Leader John Mbadi, Budget and Appropriations Committee chairman Kimani Ichung’wa and Majority Deputy Whip Cecily Mbarire.

FUNDS DISPUTE

The National Assembly last week rejected the Senate’s amendments to the 2019 Division of Revenue Bill, setting the stage for a likely battle as the two sides try to protect their turf.

The version of the bill passed in the National Assembly allocated Sh310 billion to counties as equitable shareable revenue in line with Treasury proposals.

While the Treasury argues that the counties’ share is the result of underperformance in revenue collection, the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) has rejected this view, arguing that the figure has no legal basis.

The CRA has instead said that counties should receive Sh335 billion because the law provides that any under-collection in revenue should be borne by the national government.

CHANGES

It is on the strength of the CRA proposals that the Senate raised the shareable revenue to Sh335.7 billion when it considered the bill.

Senators also removed Sh6.2 billion allocated for leasing medical equipment, a programme in its fifth year. Instead, senators want the funds channelled to counties as part of the equitable share.

The Constitution provides that not less than 15 per cent of recent audited revenue shall be allocated to counties.

MPs accused the Senate of increasing the allocation without explaining where the additional money will come from.

But senators have vowed to stick to their position and ensure their amendments stand.