Lusaka links Murkomen to revenue sharing impa*se

Monday, August 10th, 2020 00:00 | By
Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka. PD/FILE

Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka and Majority Leader Samuel Poghisio are accusing Elgeiyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen of mischief in the deadlock over the revenue sharing formula set for debate in the Senate tomorrow.

The two accuse Murkomen, a close ally of deputy President William Ruto, of acting in bad faith by successfully seeking an adjournment motion over the matter but subsequently failing to send a team to the mediation table. 

Murkomen, alongside side senators Johnson Sakaja (Nairobi), Mutula Kilonzo Jr (Makueni) and Ledama le Kina (Narok) are leading a caaucus of lawmakers who have christened themselves as  Team Kenya.

The group is composed of Senators whose counties stand to lose and few gaining in the proposed formula snubbed a request to nominate five of them to join a reconciliation committee that Lusaka mandated with getting a solution to the impasse. 

In separate interviews with People Daily yesterday, the Speaker and Poghisio allege that Murkomen did not come with clean hands when he sought an adjournment motion last week on scheduled vote, deferring the decision on the issue for a record seven times.

They also espy  hidden hand in the impasse claiming the senators are acting on the behest of a senior politician.

“When they sought for adjournment last week, the idea was to build consensus and come up with one position that was to be presented to the House for debate next Tuesday. 

One side gave names and we were prepared to carry on with the negotiations but the other side (Murkomen’s side) did not, this means that the consensus building we were looking for does not apply,” Lusaka said.

“In the circumstances, the matter will come up on Tuesday and just like we have handled other matters in the Senate a vote will be taken on the amendments, there after  a vote on the committee report will also be taken,” the Speaker added.

Lusaka said since the debate started, the House has been dealing with amendments but the committee report was yet to be touched.

While expressing his frustrations with the Murkomen axis, Lusaka regretted that lawmakers had lost an opportunity to ventilate on critical issues during the adjournment period which was supposed to strike a reconciliation. 

“But in the circumstances, we will have to take the vote on Tuesday so that we let the majority have their way and minority have their say,” he said.

He lamented that the House cannot continue adjourning and putting the country in abeyance because “if they cannot agree now, and if the previous attempts are anything to go by they will not agree”.

Veiled attack

“I don’t see (senators) agreeing anytime soon,” he held even as he ruled out any possibility of having a Kamukunji this morning to strike a compromise.

As Lusaka spoke, Senator Poghisio was accusing his predecessor of playing to the gallery and political posturing at the expense of his colleagues and Kenyans at large. 

In a thinly veiled attack at Murkomen, Poghisio said the Elgeyo Marakwet senator and his team may be working at the behest of a senior politician, who is not “keen” on having the House reaching consensus and that their failure to submit the list of their nominees to the mediation team only confirms their worst held fears. 

According to him, the solution on the contentious formula was to be found in the 10-member team meeting and burning the midnight oil, but it has not happened, “my thinking, the adjournment was mischief and it was not for us to talk.”

“The big mistake is that they have concluded that they have a solution, and when you go to negotiation with that kind of mindset, you are likely to make a mistake.

I want to continue reminding them to find a middle ground, we must continue talking to each other,” Poghisio said. 

According to him, while the faction that supports the committee formula has given dialogue a chance including accepting adjourning to talk, and also gave names for the mediation, which is a good gesture on their side, the other side seems not to understand.

“You cannot come up with your solution and insist it is best. I think tomorrow (Today) everybody goes with their own formula, we deal with it, if you want to buy time, just do that but it will not settle well until we reach a place where we can talk to each other,” he said in a salvo at Murkomen’s camp. 

Proposed amendment

 He, however, faulted Team Kenya that announced on Friday in a press conference that it had thrown its weight behind a proposed amendment by Meru Senator Mithika Linturi, which seeks to further amend the proposal by Senator  Sakaja that is already before the House.

“They have seen that their agenda won’t go through. They are keeping the other side busy, posturing as they prepare themselves.

There was no goodwill to discuss. The same person who was asking for adjournment, has already come up with a solution.” 

To justify his motion, Murkomen had told the House that there was need for legislators to build consensus that will ensure the formula adopted by the House is acceptable to all the 47 counties, and that no county will receive an allocation that is significantly lower than what it received in the last financial year.

Meanwhile, Sakaja has said that his team is “moving very well and has a solution”.

In a phone interview with People Daily on Sunday, the Senator revealed that he and Linturi had agreed to reduce the base.

“We are yet to agree on how much we are reducing it to but we have agreed to lower it from Sh316.5 billion.

We are meeting again tomorrow (today) to agree on the base. So, we have made progress,” he noted.

Sharing Sakaja’s sentiments, Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr however said that no agreement had been reached as there were ongoing informal meetings in the city.

“We can see if we can agree. The formula is coming up for a vote on Tuesday. Everybody is meeting.

We shall agree on the way forward from here. But we are supposed to have a Kamukunji on Tuesday.

This is one of those things we want to agree up on,” he said.  Linturi’s amendment wants the baseline of the allocation to counties pegged at between Sh250 billion and Sh270 billion, which is a significant dip from Sakaja’s proposal. 

While Sakaja’s has proposed that Sh316.5 billion, which was the total equitable shareable revenue to counties in the 2019/20 financial year, be treated as the base, meaning that every county must get the same share it received in the last financial year.

Linturi, whose is among those whose counties are gaining, suggests that out of the Sh316.5 billion, the range between Sh250 billion and Sh270 billion should be shared equally among all the 47 counties, with the difference being subjected to the formula developed by Sakaja.

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