Stalemate over revenue Bill referred back to mediation committee

The stalemate over the Division of Revenue Bill pitting the National Assembly against the Senate has been referred to the mediation committee for the second time.

While referring the matter back to the mediation committee, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi said any further delay in passing the Bill would have far-reaching implications on operations of both levels of government.

Senators Billow Kerrow (Mandera), Beatrice Elachi (nominated), Agnes Zani (nominated) and Mutula Kilonzo Jnr (Makueni) have been appointed to the committee while Mutava Musyimi (Mbeere), Mary Emase (Teso South), Chris Omulele (Luanda) and Richard Onyonka (Kitutu Chache South) will represent the National Assembly.

“Cognisant of the scheduled sine die recess of the House, I appeal to Members of the National Assembly appointed to the mediation committee to liaise with their Senate counterparts to expeditiously embark on the process of possibly developing an agreed version of the Bill that will be passed by both Houses of Parliament,” Mr Muturi said.

This is the second time the Bill has been referred to a mediation committee following the failure of the first committee, established in April this year, to develop an agreed version within 30 days as contemplated under Article 113 of the Constitution.

“The Division of Revenue Bill is critical to the vertical sharing of revenue between the two tiers of government and ought to be passed at least two months before the end of the subsisting financial year,” Mr Muturi said.

CASH CRUNCH

With the National Assembly set to go on recess on Thursday before the passage of the Bill, counties risk plunging into a cash crunch. The situation was made worse on Tuesday when the Senate rejected the second Division of Revenue Bill.

The senators accuse the National Assembly of using the constraints of time to blackmail them into approving insufficient funds to devolved units.

They set the irreducible minimum for passage of the Bill as allocation of the initial Sh299 Billion proposed by the National Treasury as the funds would plug holes in the payment of doctors, nurses and other contingencies.

“Republishing the Bill with the same figures that had been rejected by the mediation committee was contemptuous and an abuse of the parliamentary process,” said Professor Kindiki as he asked the House to reject the Bill until a consensus was reached.

The National Assembly has allocated Sh291 Billion to the counties, to the chagrin of the Senate, which considers revenue allocation to devolved units as its exclusive domain. The Senate had changed the figure to Sh314 Billion, but this was rejected by MPs, triggering the stalemate. Senators insisted that they must have their way in determining what goes to the counties.

They singled out Mbeere South MP Mutava Musyimi, the chairman of the Budget and Appropriations Committee, chairman for having a “patronising” attitude.

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