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Frontier counties oppose new CRA funds sharing formula

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By LUCAS BARASA
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Ten counties under the Frontier Counties Development Council (FCDC) have opposed a new formula for disbursement of funds proposed by the Commission on Revenue Allocation.

The draft third generation formula unveiled last week, and which the commission has invited the public to debate about, says resources should be shared based on devolved functions with a huge percentage going to health and agriculture.

Mandera Governor Ali Roba, who is also the FCDC chairman, said if implemented, the formula will only further marginalise arid and semi-arid counties.

FCDC comprises of Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Tana River, Isiolo, Marsabit, Lamu, Turkana, Samburu and West Pokot counties.

In a statement, Mr Roba said external factors like closure of international customs borders which is a major source of revenue for his county will make it difficult for the county governments to get Sh20 for every Sh100 collected as proposed by CRA.

The commission’s chairperson Jane Kiringai said she hoped the new formula will not only lead to more prudent management of resources but also ensure prioritisation of projects and motivate counties to improve revenue collection by rewarding those that collect the most.

“It is a formula that treats the same level of needs and allocates resources accordingly. We have redefined a number of parameters that ensure counties are clustered by their expenditure needs in health, water, health, urban services and so forth,” Dr Kiringai said.

Governor Roba said external security threats from Al-Shabaab have also had adverse effects on revenue collection in Mandera.

“Should Mandera be punished for factors beyond its control by CRA on the factor of two percent revenue collection?” Mr Roba questioned.

The clustering of counties by their expenditure needs in health, water and urban services, Mr Roba said, will disadvantage 23 arid and semi-arid counties which are water insecure due to over 50 years of neglect by successive governments before the advent of devolution.

“How has CRA considered the level of water insecurity in arid and semi-arid [counties] by allocating a flat three percent? Three percent allocation for water proves the level of ignorance of realities in these counties by CRA,” he said.

He questioned the allocation of 10 percent of funds for agriculture which is dependent on water yet 23 Asal counties have no sufficient water even for domestic use.

“These counties also need to benefit from food security. Flatly speaking, the current formula has failed to address the Big Four agenda by failing to recognise water security is a prerequisite to food security hence agriculture and water must go hand in hand,” he said.

Mr Roba said it is wrong for counties to be allocated three percent of funds based on their urbanisation levels yet all are not at the same level of urbanisation.

The move, he said, will see urbanised counties continue urbanising “and the rest of us remain indefinitely rural”.

Instructively, the formula is influenced less by poverty and population levels in counties, with CRA seeking to ensure that resources are allocated to specific devolved functions.

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