, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 22 – The Deputy Minority Leader of the National Assembly, Jakoyo Midiwo now says that Kenya should do away with devolution arguing that county governments are becoming too expensive to run.
Speaking during the funeral service of former Juja MP George Thuo, Midiwo said the wage bill occasioned by devolution cannot be sustained.
“This country cannot afford 47 governments plus the national one. This country cannot afford over 400 members of Parliament, this country cannot afford the numerous MCAs (Members of the County Assemblies),” he put forth.
The opposition-allied Member of Parliament went on to guarantee President Kenyatta – who was present – his unwavering support should he decide to take his advice.
“I want to request you to begin the debate. We shall support you. We shall support your government to sort out the mess we got ourselves into,” he pledged.
It is however unclear who, “we,” is as Midiwo’s party leader, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, has made it abundantly clear that his loyalties lie with the county governments.
However, the National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale came out to strongly defend devolution.
“As much as you want to reduce the wage bill, we must also protect and defend the spirit and the letter of devolution in the Constitution,” he said.
Midiwo and Duale’s arguments were a reflection of the heated debate that is expected to take place on the floor of the National Assembly when the Public Finance (Administration and Management) Regulations 2013 is tabled.
The burgeoning wage bill has been of particular concern especially as the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) remains embroiled in a salary dispute.
The MPs have themselves in the past held the SRC at ransom over their pay leading the commission to cave in and revise their allowances upward.
In his very first speech as President in Parliament, Kenyatta himself expressed concern at the wage bill which had been a concern long before the county governments were established.
“In the current financial year for example the total estimated wage bill is Sh458 billion. This wage bill at slightly over 12 percent of our GDP, is well above the internationally accepted standard of 7 percent and accounts for almost half of the revenue collected by Government,” he said in April.