Nairobi — Members of the National Assembly have for the second time deferred a vote that would have paved way for the second reading of the Division of Revenue Bill to Tuesday next week.
The Bill which has always attracted controversy since 2013 is crucial in the budget making process as it provides for the equitable division of revenue raised nationally among the national and county levels of government as required by the Constitution.
House Deputy Majority Whip Maoka Maore petitioned Speaker Justin Muturi to shelve the vote on the Bill after members failed to reach a consensus during an initial informal meeting that had been okayed by the Speaker during the Thursday morning sitting.
Maore who rose on point of order reported that no resolution was arrived at the informal meeting or popularly referred to as a kamukunji that lasted for about 45 minutes.
“I arise on standing orders 53(3) and seek your wisdom and defer the putting of the question to the time that you may designate so that we can get time to agree on what we did not agree,” he said.
The deferment on the matter was unanimous as the members agreed that they will only prosecute the matter once Treasury releases their National Government Constituency Development Fund (CDF) in full for the Financial year 2020/2021 and other outstanding arrears.
Attempts by the House Majority Leader Amos Kimunya to warn the House that another deferment would have dire consequences were shouted down by the agitated lawmakers who lamented that lack of the CDF money had stalled development in their respective constituencies.
“This request for a deferment has indeed come as a surprise to me and I wish to remind the House that there are constitutional timeliness which we must observe in relation to the Division of Revenue Bill,” he said.
The 290 constituencies in the Financial year 2020/2021 were allocated a total of Sh41 billion translating to each constituency at least getting Sh141 million.
Most of the 290 constituencies have received a paltry Sh16 million out of the allocated Sh137 million for the current financial year.
Arrears of Sh18 billion have dragged from the last fiscal year, with others dating back to 2011.
House Minority Leader Junet Mohammed said that consultation on the matter is the only remedy that would cure the stalemate that risks plunging the country into a financial crisis if it persists.
“Consultations are never harmful; people can continue consulting and consulting until they agree on something. This matter of CDF is very emotive and important to the members because it concerns their constituencies,” he said.
Garissa Township MP Aden Duale said that it would only be prudent for the House to dispense off with the CDF issue before prosecuting the Division of Revenue Bill.
“This House must make a decision beneficial to the people of Kenya. And that is why we are saying that CDF is so critical because it benefits the people we represent,” he said.
Embakasi East MP Babu Owino noted that services had been paralysed in his constituency due to lack of funds.
“My people are languishing in abject poverty and in fact some of them would wish to die but they do not even have money to buy ropes to kill themselves,” he said.
Nominated MP Cecily Mbarire noted that “consultations have achieved more than threats”.
Parliament cannot enact the Appropriation Act before the Division of Revenue Act.
The Public Finance Management Act provides that estimates of revenue and expenditure that the Treasury submits to the National Assembly are based on the share of revenue as provided for in the Division of Revenue Act.
Without the Act, county governments cannot prepare and adopt their annual budgets and appropriation laws.
The Supreme Court in May 2020 said counties will be allowed 50 per cent of their allocation if there is an impasse over the Bill.