By :Hon. Ahmed A Ibrahim
It is wrong to dismiss the demand by inhabitants of arid and semi-arid lands (Asal) to an equitable share of national cake by questioning what they bring to the table in regard to revenue generation.
Every county makes its unique contribution. According to the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (Kalro), the rangelands of Garissa County are home to over 60 per cent of Kenya’s livestock resources. Over 70 per cent of the beef supply for domestic and export markets is sourced from there. Indeed, the Garissa livestock market is one of the largest in eastern Africa with up to 10,000 animals traded weekly. There is massive potential for beef export, especially in the Middle East.
Huge swathes of land in the North are economically unexploited due to decades of State failure in accelerating infrastructure development. For example, 16,000 square kilometers of Marsabit is underexploited despite its high agricultural potential.
From the vast northeastern region, whose importance the government has always underlined through military intervention whenever there is threat of external aggression, to the national parks in southern Kenya, all regions add to the value and beauty of our country. Each of the 47 counties is part of the landmass that makes up the 569,140 square-km territory. Under Article 27 of the Constitution, all citizens are entitled to equal benefit of the law.
Inequitable sharing of the national cake was a core grievance among Agenda 4 items of the 2008 National Accord for which the Constitution thus sought a solution.
Article 10 provides that the national values and principles of governance include equity, social justice and protection of the marginalised. The ethos of this is that good governance facilitates human and infrastructural development as a consequence of the sharing of national revenue in cognizance of the economic disparities in counties.
In identifying the basis of revenue allocation, Senate and the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) should be aware that some counties lag behind on infrastructural development.
The formula must be geared towards improving service delivery and filling development gaps in counties still “lagging behind” on account of past marginalisation.
Article 201 provides that the public finance system promote an equitable society. In particular, expenditure shall promote equitable development, including making special provision for marginalised groups and areas. Equity implies fairness and impartiality and enjoyment of socioeconomic rights.
A formula anchored on ‘one man, one shilling’ cannot create an equitable society; it runs counter to the promise of equitable development. It is a step backwards to the warped ideology of Sessional Paper No. 10 of 1965, which proposed that “development money should be invested where it will yield the largest increase in net output”.
Mr Ibrahim, MP for Wajir North, is vice-chair of the National Assembly’s Public Investment Committee.
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