Full in-tray for Senate as sittings resume with 31 pending bills
Senators will this afternoon resume plenary sittings after a two-month long recess with the sharing of revenue between the national government and the counties being given a priority.
This even as Senators are facing a packed in-tray with a high number of pending legislative bills standing at 31 pending conclusion at various stages in the House.
The two levels of government are locked in a tussle over proposed allocations to counties in equitable revenue share and equalization fund.
Although the Council of Governors (CoG) wants a minimum of Sh450 billion in equitable share, the National Treasury insist that they can only manage Sh391 billion while the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) wants the devolved units to be allocated Sh398.14 billion.
Governors have maintained their position on the proposed allocations, demanding Sh450 billion comprising Sh439.5 billion as equitable share to counties and Sh10.52 billion as Road Maintenance Levy Fund.
The Senate adjourned for recess in December last year without striking a deal on two contentious bills – The Equalization Fund Bill, 2023 and The County Government Additional Allocations Bill, 2023.
The latter Bill is set for mediation after senators rejected the proposed allocation of Sh396.05 billion allocation, already approved by the National Assembly, to counties for the fiscal year ending June 2025.
The lawmakers questioned the proposed allocation to the 47 devolved units, saying it is way below a proposal of Sh407 billion put forward by the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) for the current financial year.
The senators threatened to reject the revenue allocation proposal on the basis that it represents a marginal increase from the current allocation despite a projected rise in revenue collection by the national government.
Senate Majority Leader Aaron Cheruiyot (Kericho) said the House adjourned for recess without concluding on the two crucial bills. He pointed out that a mediation committee was formed to broker an deal, however, the committee is yet to meet.
“They (committee) are yet to meet because the National Assembly has specific issues that they have raised with the Council of Governors (CoG), which they first want to be addressed before the mediation exercise can commence,” said Cheruiyot.
The Senate went on recess on December 7, 2023 and is set to return on Tuesday, February 13, 2024. Godfrey Osotsi (Vihiga) supported the governors’ demands questioning why the CRA is proposing a lower allocation for the coming financial year.
“It is strange that CRA had proposed Sh407 billion in the current fiscal year but is now proposing Sh396.14 billion next financial year. We want to know the reasoning behind it as it is coming at a time when revenue collection is projected to increase. The final decision lies with the Senate,” said Osotsi.