, NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 10 – A day after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) released its preliminary revised report on new electoral units, the Ministry of Local Government says it has finalised measures to ensure smooth transfer of operations from the existing system to the county government.
Speaking after he appeared before the Parliamentary Committee on Local Authorities where gave the ministry’s views on three proposed Bills critical for the operationalisation of county governments, Local Government Permanent Secretary Prof Karega Mutahi told Capital News that the laws are interlinked and should not be handled in isolation.
“The groundwork for jumpstarting the devolution is now complete and once the laws are passed, then we will have the legal provisions that will then empower all the ministries, all the departments; every institution that has a role to play to achieve devolution can achieve devolution,” he said.
He said that the Bills had also resolved an impasse which had seen the taskforce on devolution and the Treasury takes separate stands on the finance sharing laws at the national and county levels.
The IEBC released its preliminary revised report on new electoral units to the parliamentary committee on Justice and Legal Affairs on Thursday, where it among other things, proposed the creation of 80 new constituencies and a review of wards in them.
The MPs called on the government to fast track the tabling of the Bills to ensure the immediate establishment of the County Transition Authority to oversee the transformation from the current system to the county government over a period of five years, arguing that it would not be proper to have elected officials who are idle.
Prof Mutahi said: “Inter-dependence of the counties to the national government is stipulated in the Constitution, such that neither the county government nor the national government can fully deliver the services to Kenyans without the other.”
“When it comes to execution the functions, the county governments have the legal provisions to do their work without interference with anybody either national or any other government,” he said.
Prof Mutahi said he was optimistic that Parliament will beat the constitutional timeframes to enable the rollout of the devolution process.
“We are ahead of the timeframes. According to the Constitution, the law on devolved governments were to be ready by the end of this month but the legislations are already done,” he said but did not give possible dates that the Bills will be tabled in Parliament for debate.
The Cabinet has already approved two Bills critical for the operationalisation of county governments.
The Bills are Transition to Devolved Government Bill 2012 and the Inter-Government Relations Bill 2012; which will create the legislative framework for the successful devolution of government to the county level.
The Transition to Devolved Government Bill deals with a three year transitional period from the day of enactment until full implementation of the county governments.
It creates a County Transitional Authority that will deal with all matters that will see a smooth transition to devolved governments.
The Authority will undertake the preparatory work before the general elections and will assist county governments to fully take-off soon after the elections and for the three year transition period.
The Bill also gives guidelines on how county governments will and the qualifications of the office bearer in the semi-autonomous governments.
Details on how urban areas and cities will be classified and managed in the context of county governments and criteria for financing will be handled in the Draft Urban Areas and Cities Bill 2011. This Bill, if made law, might see some urban centres lose their status and others elevated.
The Inter-Government Relations Bill outlines the relations between the national and county governments and the inter relations between the various county governments.
It proposes the creation of a summit that brings together the President, Vice President and the 47 county governors in a bi-annual meeting.
It also outlines the relations between the 47 governors and the dispute resolution mechanisms among the counties.
The Bill also creates the County Governments Council that will create the framework for relations among the 47 county governors.