Counties were on Thursday left on the brink of a cash crisis after President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM boss Raila Odinga failed to rein in their senators to pass the revenue sharing formula.
The lawmakers failed, for the fourth time, to debate and pass the contentious third basis for sharing revenue among the 47 counties, putting the devolved units, some of which rely entirely on the Exchequer, on the edge.
The formula will guide how counties share the national cake for the next five years. The stalemate on the formula, which has been pending in the Senate for more than a year, has stalled the passage of the County Allocation of Revenue Bill to allow for cash disbursements.
The Bill splits the national cake among the counties.
On Thursday, Speaker Kenneth Lusaka unexpectedly adjourned the special sitting convened to approve the formula moments after Majority Leader Samuel Poghisio sought an adjournment, sparking protests from a section of the senators.
Poghisio had requested for adjournment on the floor but neither moved a motion nor was the same seconded and approved by the members as provided for in the Standing Orders.
“The speaker has adjourned the meeting in the most unprocedural manner. The motion was not even moved, not seconded,” Minority chief whip Mutula Kilonzo Jr said.
As the speaker walked down the aisle after adjourning the session, senators poured out in protest, chanting: “Shame! Shame! Shame!”, pointing to the anxiety and the fireworks that would have ensued on the floor.
On Thursday, it emerged that the senators, even after weeks of negotiations that roped in Raila and the President, had failed to reach a middle ground on the continuous formula with two opposing sides standing their ground.
At the heart of the contention is the formula proposed by the Finance and Budget Committee, which, if adopted, would see 18 counties lose up to Sh17 billion from their last financial year’s allocations.
Last week, Majority Chief Whip Irungu Kangata and Mutula told the Star that they had reached out to Raila and other political leaders to help broker a deal.
Kangata admitted facing challenges pushing the formula, which he termed the President’s agenda.
Committee chairman Charles Kibiru (Kirinyaga) has vouched for formula, saying it ensures equity as it factors the 2019 population data as opposed to the old formula which used ‘wrong’ data.
The proposal gives more weight to population, unlike the current one that places more weight on the landmass.