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Revenue allocation row bad for health care

By Alberto Leny
Tuesday, July 28th, 2020
Cash. Photo/File

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed a serious defect in our governance system hampering the delivery of essential services to citizens.

Dealing with the rising case load of this devastating virus requires astute scientific management and political will cutting across the entire national political, social and economic spectrum.

However, the stalemate in the Senate over the allocation of revenue to counties shows political leaders may be unaware that their obligation to care for the people’s health is paramount to the fulfilment of good governance and citizens’ economic and social rights.

The right to health is a fundamental human right guaranteed in the Constitution.

Article 43 (1) (a) provides that every person has the right to the highest standard of health, which includes the right to hospital care, including reproductive services.

Resolution of the impasse on the amended County Allocation Revenue Act is crucial in addressing the alarming spike in Covid-19 cases stretching the capacities of the national and county governments.

Health is a devolved, but shared function between the two-tier governance structure and counties are in desperate need of funds to deal with the pandemic’s surge.

The National Treasury says it is holding on close to Sh40 billion from last financial year due to the missing legislation.

Counties are hurting though and severely impaired to deal with the anticipated spike in the coronavirus caseload.

The Council of Governors has urged Treasury to urgently disburse the funds; otherwise, the fight against the pandemic would be severely compromised.

Of equal concern is the linkage of Senate deliberations on county revenue allocations to the attainment of the goals of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) that emerged from the Handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga. 

The BBI offers a realistic path to securing two factors vital to attaining political and socio-economic stability in Kenya – the governance structure and devolution.

Yesterday, the National and County Government Coordinating Summit between President Kenyatta and the 47 governors met to review the effectiveness of the Covid-19 containment measures and their impact on the economy.

The meeting demonstrated how health is inextricably connected to these two features embedded to the nation’s future.

It is, therefore, ill-advised to hold a concerted fight against a massive public health emergency hostage to efforts to build national cohesion and reconciliation. 

Even as fairness in allocations is demanded for all counties, political leaders should not stigmatise the good intentions of the BBI as the nation collectively battles a common enemy in the coronavirus.

Those promoting such dogma threaten the cultivation of national unity, growth of democracy, economic development and protection of human rights. 

Sadly, we are beginning to see the return of politicians peddling divisive rhetoric at a time people should be united in combating a virus threatening to wipe out lives and livelihoods.

When the summit met yesterday to review the alarming escalation of the Covid-19 situation, leaders must have recalled the President’s words when he chaired a similar meeting on 10 June:

“When this summit sits, its only business is Kenya. No party affiliation, no political distancing and no ethnic divisionism.

The summit becomes the soul of Kenya. That is why pronouncements of this gathering become articles of faith in Project Kenya.”

As the senators seek to break the stalemate on revenue allocation to counties today, they are cautioned that their decisions could make or break “Project Kenya”. [email protected]

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