MPs eye bigger role in equalisation cash


Tiaty MP William Kamket. FILE PHOTO | NMG

MPs have started a fresh bid to wrest control of the administration of the multibillion-shilling Equalisation Fund from the National Treasury.

Through Tiaty MP Kasait Kamket, the National Assembly has republished the Equalisation Fund Bill, 2019 that lapsed with the end of the last session of the House.

The Equalisation Fund Bill, 2020, seeks to establish a board to administer the fund in instances where the kitty is directly used for the provision of basic services in areas considered marginalised.

“The enactment of the Bill will reduce the current bureaucratic red-tape that exists with regards to the administration of the Fund currently domiciled in the National Treasury,” Mr Kamket said in the Bills explanatory memorandum.

A similar attempt by MPs to take full control of the fund from the Treasury flopped after President Uhuru Kenyatta rejected a constitutional amendment Bill then sponsored by Samburu West MP Lati Lelelit in 2015.

Up to 246 MPs had voted to approve the Equalisation Fund Bill, 2015 seeking to amend Article 204 of the Constitution to remove the fund from the national government’s management to constituencies. Two MPs voted against the Bill proposals.

Lawmakers’ and governors’ quest to control the fund suffered a major setback after the Treasury created a board to manage and administer the fund. The Treasury, through a gazette notice issued guidelines on the administration of the fund, establishing a board largely dominated by principal secretaries to administer the fund on behalf of the national government.

The fund was created under Article 204 of the Constitution to accelerate the level of services in marginalised areas to bring them up to par with the rest of the country.

The money is meant to provide basic services, including water, roads, health facilities and electricity to marginalised areas.

It constitutes one half percent of all revenue collected each year by the national government. But the money has never been disbursed since 2012 due to failure by the Treasury and MPs to agree on the model for the fund in line with the Public Finance Management Act. The undisbursed funds stood at Sh28.3 billion as at January 2019. The fund runs for 20 years from August 2010 when the Constitution was promulgated.

Beneficiaries of the fund are Turkana, Lamu, Mandera, Wajir, Marsabit, Samburu, West Pokot, Tana River, Narok, Kwale, Garissa, Kilifi, Taita Taveta and Isiolo.

The Kamket Bill proposes the establishment of Local Equalisation Fund Committees in each ward in marginalised areas as determined by the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) pursuant to Article 216 of the Constitution.

According to the Bill, the local committees will be tasked with identifying projects for funding in consultations with local communities.