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Supreme court gives Senate, National Assembly a month to conclude mediation on revenue stalemate

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BY JOAN WANJIKU,NAIROBI,15TH AUG 2019-The Supreme Court on Thursday s directed Senate to appoint a mediation team to meet with National Assembly’s team to resolve the ongoing standoff over the Division of Revenue Bill 2019 by September 16.

A five-judge bench  ruled that it prudent to allow the mediation process initiated be exhausted, before the court intervenes.

Counties are seeking an allocation of Sh335 billion for the 2019/20 financial year but the national government through the national assembly has insisted on Sh316 billion.

“We wish to make it clear that this court is willing to give an advisory opinion as soon as possible but we can’t bypass the ongoing constitutional process, I therefore direct the Senate to appoint a mediation committee and report to this court as soon as possible,” the bench led by Chief Justice David Maraga ruled.

The National Assembly, Senate, Council of Governors (CoG), Commission of Revenue Allocation (CRA) and Attorney General had been previously ordered to file a status report of the legislative process.

Representing the Senate, Deputy Speaker Kithure Kindiki asked the court to continue with the proceedings since they had failed to come to an agreement with the National Assembly.

“For posterity and for the sake of protecting devolution, despite the progress made in addressing this issue, this court should hear the parties and make a determination,” stated Kindiki.

Lawyer Fred Ngatia representing CoG who are also petitioners in the case said it was only the court that could unlock the stalemate on division of revenue.

“I plead with this court to proceed with the hearing and adjudicate this matter since mediation has failed,” he stated.

CRA represented by lawyer Kamotho Waiganjo also argued that the solution to ending this dispute lies within the Court since this matter is constitutional in nature.

“Release of monies to counties is a constitutional matter, let’s resolve constitutional issues constitutionally and that can only be done in this court,” he said.

On his part ,Attorney General Kihara Kariuki said he will abide by the decision of the court on whether the two processes – the mediation and the petition   should run concurrently or either of them is admitted.

The National Assembly was the only party that opposed the decision to have the matter settled in court.

They requested to be given 30 days to mediate as provided for in the constitution.

“Article 113 of the constitution, County governments anticipates for delays and allows them to access 50 per cent of the money in case of delays, so I urge the court to give us time,” National Assembly submitted.

However ,CJ Maraga said it’s not a must they take 30 days just because the constitution states so.

 

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