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Counties in Kenya to remain deprived of funds as Senate adjourns

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County governments will wait longer to receive their share of the Sh316.5 billion after senators voted to adjourn debate on the approval of the revenue sharing formula despite six previous attempts.

This means that counties may wait until after September 8 when lawmakers return from a month-long recess. The House can also convene for a special sitting to approve the formula if a deal is struck among the senators.

The formula is needed to guide the enactment of the yet to be approved County Allocation of Revenue (CRA) Bill, 2020.

The Bill provides for the sharing of revenue raised nationally between the two levels of government as well as guides release of cash to counties from the Consolidated Fund.

The Constitution allows the 47 devolved units to access up to 50 per cent of their annual allocation pending the passage of the Bill.

The Bill also guides the sharing of revenue among counties as well as the preparation and approval of their annual budgets.

Article 217 of the Constitution stipulates that the revenue-sharing formula be reviewed every five years.

The proposed formula by the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) puts more weight on population at 18 per cent.

Other weights are health (17 per cent), agriculture (10 per cent), poverty (14 per cent), basic share (20 per cent), land area (eight per cent), rural access (four per cent), urban households (five per cent) and fiscal effort and prudence index at two per cent each.

This means counties with higher population will emerge as the biggest beneficiaries while those with low numbers will lose.

Senators are sharply divided over the formula that would see 19 counties drawn mainly from the North, Coast and Lower Eastern counties lose a cumulative of Sh42 billion while 28 others stand to gain.

The continued bickering by senators over the proposed revenue-sharing formula means counties may face a cash crunch that is likely to ground crucial services to a halt.

Yesterday, senators voted 34 to 26 in support of Elgeyo Marakwet senator Kipchumba Murkomen who asked the House to adjourn debate on the approval of the divisive revenue sharing formula to allow consensus that will ensure losing and wining counties lose gain by a small margin.

Mr Murkomen rose to seek adjournment of the debate on the formula proposed by the Finance and Budget committee which has faced resistance in the House.

“I rise to move that the debate be now adjourned. This is because Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja has proposed further amendments over and above that of Majority Whip Irungu Kangata that were extremely contentious and forced the House to adjourn at 9pm last week,” Mr.  Murkomen said.

Under the contentious revenue sharing criteria, less populous Mandera County tops the list of counties earmarked to lose up to Sh2 billion while the highly populated Kiambu will gain Sh1.3 billion more under the new formula.

Wajir, Kwale and Kilifi counties will lose Sh1.4 billion and 1.2 billion, respectively while Nairobi will gain Sh1.2 billion, Uasin Gishu (Sh983 million), Nandi, Kajiado and Nakuru Sh700 million each. Laikipia and Trans Nzoia will gain over Sh600 million each.