After a prolonged debate and protests over the timing of the bill, senators have approved the Sh13.89 billion Equalisation Fund Appropriations Bill, 2023, bringing marginalised counties one step closer to receiving the much-needed funds. The Equalisation Fund is established under Article 204 of the Constitution to provide basic services, such as water, health, and critical infrastructure, to underdeveloped regions.
The allocation of the funds was met with controversy, as some lawmakers challenged the Commission on Revenue Allocation’s (CRA) criteria for selecting the beneficiaries. They claimed that the process was discriminatory and that certain counties received only a meagre amount.
Despite concerns about the short time remaining before the end of the financial year in June, Mandera Senator Ali Roba assured that the funds would not lapse. Once the National Assembly concurs, the bill will be sent to President William Ruto for assent.
The Sh13.89 billion will benefit a total of 1,424 marginalized areas across 34 counties. The funds will be allocated based on the needs of each region and their development status.
Turkana will receive Sh1.53 billion, West Pokot (Sh1.37 billion), Narok (Sh1.03 billion), Mandera (Sh1.01 billion), Wajir (Sh982.03 million), Samburu (Sh873.80 million), Marsabit (Sh631.65 million), and Tana River (Sh594.63 million). Other counties that will benefit include Garissa, Baringo, Kilifi, Kajiado, Kitui, Homa Bay, Kwale, Laikipia, Bungoma, Busia, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Bomet, Kericho, Kisumu, Lamu, Machakos, Meru, Murang’a, Nakuru, Siaya, Taita-Taveta, Tharaka-Nithi, and Trans Nzoia.
Since its inception, the Equalisation Fund’s entitlement stands at Sh54.03 billion, but only Sh26.29 billion has been allocated, and Sh12.4 billion has been disbursed. The approved bill will go a long way in bridging the development gap in marginalized areas, bringing essential services to those who need them most.