NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 21 – Members of Parliament want the government to declare the fate of the provincial administration before county governments are established.
The legislators said functions of the provincial administration should be synchronised with county government structures to avoid potential conflicts.
Speaking during debate on the Intergovernmental Relations Bill, MPs said officers under the system should be converted into development coordinators working under the direction of governors.
The provincial administration comprises provincial commissioners, county coordinators, district commissioners, district officers and chiefs.
MPs said the provincial administration as currently constituted was no longer tenable and asked Internal Security Minister George Saitoti to table a Bill to reform the system.
Tigania East MP Peter Munya warned that should MPs fail to reform and synchronise the functions of the provincial administration with that of county governments, there will be perpetual paralysis in the running of the devolved units.
“If we let it (provincial administration) exist as a parallel system, there will be constant conflict. We shouldn’t wait until five years are over to reform this system in line with county structures as outlined in the Constitution,” Munya who is also the East African Community Assistant Minister said.
“If we don’t use this opportunity to re-align the provincial administration, when will we do it? We must accept that creating parallel governments will result to collision,” Ikolomani MP Boni Khalwale added in his contribution to the debate.
“We must look at ways to provide officers in this system a safe landing ground but the system must be done away with,” said Gwassi MP John Mbadi.
Deputy Prime Minister and Local Government Minister Musalia Mudavadi explained that an explicit provision will be inserted in the Bill which will outlaw any system running side by side with the county structures.
“To clear ambiguity, we will provide in the County Bill an explicit provision that there will be no parallel system running alongside the county government,” he said.
The MPs raised issues with the Bill, particularly the structures established under it, funding, oversight and functions of the provincial administration.
MPs also clashed over the functions of the proposed National and County Government Summit and the Council of Governors.
Munya differed with Garsen MP Danson Mungatana over the roles of the governors in the proposed County Coordinating Summit chaired by the president and constituted by the 47 governors.
The Bill envisages the establishment of the National and County Government Summit, Council of County Governors and the Intergovernmental Relations Technical Committee.
The summit to be chaired by the president and constituted by the 47 governors is the apex structure in the Intergovernmental Relations Bill.
The Bill spells out mechanisms for dispute resolution between national and county government as well as inter-counties.
Whereas Mungatana and Khalwale called for the collapsing of the roles in the proposed Council of County Governors and the County Coordinating Summit on grounds that it runs the potential of creating bureaucracy, Munya said the two organs are distinct and should be retained.
“The summit accords the head of state opportunity to look at what is happening nationally at the 47 counties. The Council of Governors accord governors’ opportunity to address inter-county disputes. What we need to do is to have a lean secretariat,” Munya said.
Kandara MP Maina Kamau rooted for governors to be under the age of 55 year saying the job requires an energetic person.
The MPs passed the County Government Bill and Intergovernmental Relations Bill which now awaits scrutiny in the committee stage where the House is expected to consider amendments proposed by MPs.