Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Debate on Revenue Bill begins amidst MPs' row

Posted  Wednesday, May 8  2013 at  12:17

MPs have began a debate on the Division of Revenue Bill, a day after some members staged a walk-out from the National Assembly.
The Bill provides for the sharing of money between the national and the county government in the 2013/2014 financial year.
They are discussing the Bill without input from the relevant departmental committees as the wrangling between the Jubilee and Cord coalitions on Tuesday stalled the formation of the committees. (READ: Cord withdraws MPs from House committees)
Without the committees, there has also been no opportunity to get input from the public as required by the Constitution and neither the CRA nor Treasury has been given a chance to state their positions.
MPs Tom Kajwang’ (Ruaraka, ODM) and Dalmas Otieno (Rongo, ODM) suggested to Speaker Justin Muturi that he facilitate input from the public by having the Clerk of the National Assembly receive the submissions.
However, Mr Muturi reiterated that their request would not be possible and not serve as a remedy to the deadlock that has made it impossible for the committees to start working.
“The public can write to the Clerk but we only have today (Wednesday) and tomorrow (Thursday),” said the Speaker.
“It is the House, in its own wisdom, that has decided to work the way it is doing. There is nothing the Chair can do. Whether you will have received communication from the public…that is for you to decide, as long as it is lawfully received,” he added.
As Majority Leader Aden Duale kicked off the debate at the Second Reading on Wednesday morning, he told MPs the Bill would be amended at the Third Reading to indicate the increase in the allocation from Sh198 billion to Sh206.6 billion.
This would be to formally include the changes negotiated between the Commission on Revenue Allocation and the Treasury in a meeting presided over Deputy President William Ruto last Monday.
However, some MPs questioned the manner in which the increase was negotiated, saying the National Assembly should have been involved since the Bill had been published and introduced in the House.
The Bill should go through the Second Reading on Wednesday, where MPs discuss it without making amendments, and the Third Reading- where the changes are introduced on Thursday. It shall then be forwarded to the Senate.
John Mbadi (Suba, ODM) said he would introduce an amendment to increase the allocation to counties from the Sh206.6 billion agreed to “at least Sh230 billion.”
He said from discussions in the 10th Parliament, MPs had been made to understand that the counties would need Sh237 billion to operate efficiently.
With the negotiated increase to Sh206.6 billion, Sh175 billion will be shared equitably between the counties, with the rest designated as conditional grants and allocations.
Mr Mbadi said the conditional grants- money for regional and referral hospitals and funding through loans and grants that is specific for projects- should be included in the amount to be shared equitably.
A likely source of contention is the fact that Treasury used the 2010/2011 audited revenue as the basis for determining the amount to be shared between the regional and national governments.
Wafula Wamunyinyi, (Kanduyi, Ford-Kenya) said MPs need to see the terms of reference for the new ministry of devolution to prevent against attempts by the national government to micromanage the counties.
He said should the new ministry take the form of the former Local Government ministry, the counties would be reduced to begging the national government for funds.
According to Tim Wanyonyi (Westlands, ODM), county governments have inherited huge debts from local authorities and some of the money might just go to servicing debts.
He said Parliament needs to ensure the allocation is used for services and not just paying off debts.
Junet Mohammed (Suna East, ODM) questioned the basis on which Constitutional commissions had been allocated Sh8.7 billion
“I’m suggesting that the money allocated to commissions is much higher and should be allocated to other areas,” he said.

No comments:

Post a Comment