, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 21- The ministries of Finance and Local Government are engaged in a tussle which threatens to delay the implementation of the Constitution, over the drafting of devolution Bills.
The Treasury insists that the task force on devolution should not draft any Bills touching on finances as it lacks the expertise, noting that it has already made several grave mistakes in the County Government Financial Management Bill which it submitted to the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC).
Speaking before the Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC) on Thursday, Kamau Thugi, a consultant at the Ministry of Finance, noted that the Bill cited several articles that were non existent in addition to being a carbon copy of the Municipal Finance Management Act (2003) of South Africa.
The County Government Financial Management Bill makes references to articles 154, 156, 157 (2) and 181 (2) which do not exist.
Articles 104 and 105 of the Bill are directly copied from articles 85 and 86 (respectively) of the South African Act, according to Mr Thugi.
He accused the devolution task force of rushing through the process of drafting the Bill without formulating the policy framework behind it.
“Now if there are so many errors in such an important document which has been submitted to the CIC to become a law we wonder whether there has been enough thinking behind what is actually the substance of what has been submitted,” quipped Mr Thugi.
However the devolution task force maintained that it had the authority to provide the legal framework on all issues touching on devolution including finances.
Other than the County Government Financial Management Bill, the task force has also submitted the Inter governmental Fiscal Relations Bill to the CIC, the Attorney General and the Finance Ministry.
Task force Chairman Mutakha Kangu accused the Treasury of sabotaging the process by refusing to cooperate on the Bills.
While he argued that it was necessary to have separate laws touching on the issue of devolution and finances, the Finance Ministry called for one wholesome law.
Task force member Murkomen Kipchumba said it would be safe to have the separate laws in order to minimise any conflicts that could come up in the future.
He added that it was crucial to cross reference Financial Bills with those on devolution.
“A pastor was once preaching and he said I would rather act as though there is a heaven even when it might not be there than act as if there’s none and find out later that there is. So it would be better if we act as if we need the two separate bills and later realise that we don’t need them,” he said.
Finance Permanent Secretary Joseph Kinyua said that it would be illogical to have several laws on Financing and devolution.
The Treasury also said that it had already drafted a comprehensive Public Finance Management Bill to tackle all those issues.
Mr Kinyua further accused the task force on devolution of circumventing his ministry’s role by drafting the finance bills without consulting it.
“The point of the matter is that you would want to ensure that you are relying on the doctor who can give you the correct prescription and not someone who was just walking around the hospital and heard the doctor saying something about your illness,” he quipped.
Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee Chairman, Abdikadir Mohammed, however challenged the two institutions to sort out their differences and cooperate in the formulation of the laws.
He said that the delays in implementing the Constitution posed a great threat to the future of the country and that they should also include the Commission on Revenue Allocation while drafting the laws.
He also said that it would be better to have one law on the matter than have several separate laws.
Mr Mohammed further faulted the Finance Ministry for not including proper public participation while formulating their Public Finance Management Bill.
“My personal view is that it is better to have few Bills. I’m saying this from the experience I’ve had as a lawyer and as a legislator. When you have too many laws it is difficult to know where what is,” he argued.