NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 15 – The Senate Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee says the House may have to cede the function of approving county budgets as outlined in the County Government Amendment Bill.
Speaking after a two-hour meeting with the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC), Committee Chairman Amos Wako said that they had agreed to delete a clause that empowers the proposed County Development Board to discuss and adopt county plans and budgets.
The Busia Senator said this will be done to avoid a duplication of duties with County Assemblies which are mandated to scrutinise and approve county budgets.
“All the functions in the Bill stand but the one we shall have to look at so that we amend is that function that says the Board to adopt the County Annual Budget before it is tabled and so on,” he told a media briefing after the meeting.
Wako added: “Ours can only be to recommend or to advice and it will be up to the County Assembly to exercise its constitutional and legal function of going through it and approving the budget.”
CIC Chairman Charles Nyachae who has been against the Bill said they welcome proposals for a forum to discuss the county plans as long as it does not contravene the Constitution and other legislation governing devolution.
“The idea of the forum itself (in our view) is within the contemplation of the Constitution.”
“The focus of that forum being to advise and recommend and to do so in such a manner that does not infringe on the constitutional roles of either county assemblies or county executives or any other organ; then the proposed law will have achieved,” Nyachae said in explaining why the he and his fellow commissioner decided to back the Senate’s move.
Wako who served as Kenya’s longest serving Attorney General played down claims that the Bill contravened the Constitution as had been alleged by the CIC, National Assembly’s Constitution Oversight Implementation Committee and Civil Society organisations.
He said the Senate is performing its mandate under Section 91(f) of the County Government Act which guides the establishment of modalities and platforms for citizen participation.
Section 91 (f) states: “The county government shall facilitate the establishment of structures for citizen participation including avenues for the participation of peoples’ representatives including but not limited to members of the National Assembly and Senate.”
Governors and Senators on Friday called a truce in their push and pull over a controversial draft law after agreeing that Senators should not make any law that infringe on the executive authority of Governors and their county governments.
The County Government (Amendment) Bill, 2013 which is proposed by Nandi County Senator Stephen Kipyego is under review by the Senate Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights before they retreat to prepare recommendations which will inform debate on the Bill.
The Senate Committee will meet the Council of Governors on Thursday.
The Bill that has since been introduced in the Senate creates a County Development Board, which will be chaired by the Senator and comprise of the County Woman Representative; the elected MPs in the constituencies within the county; the Speaker of the County Assembly; the Majority and Minority Leaders in the County Assembly; the chairperson of the County Public Service Board, the chairmen of the County Assembly Committees in charge of Planning, Finance, and Budget. The representative of the national government in charge of Planning will also sit in the board.
The Governor will sit as the Secretary of the Development Board, while the Deputy Governor will be one of the members.