Governors in court over Senators’ county boards role

July 31, 2014 4:05 pm
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Council Chairman Isaac Ruto described the Act as unconstitutional, arguing that Governors are the Chief Executives of County Governments and it would therefore be prejudicial to create such a body/FILE
Council Chairman Isaac Ruto described the Act as unconstitutional, arguing that Governors are the Chief Executives of County Governments and it would therefore be prejudicial to create such a body/FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, July 31 – The Council of Governors has now moved to court to challenge the legality of the County Governments Amendment Act 2014 that seeks to introduce County Development Boards chaired by Senators.

Speaking during a press conference, Council Chairman Isaac Ruto described the Act as unconstitutional, arguing that Governors are the Chief Executives of County Governments and it would therefore be prejudicial to create such a body.

The law was signed on Wednesday by President Uhuru Kenyatta after it was approved by Parliament.

Ruto further pointed out that it interferes with the principle of separation of powers and that the Senate is a legislative and not an implementing body.

“We hereby strongly object to the passage into law of the County Government Amendment Act 2014 which seeks to introduce County Development Boards chaired by the Senator. It is gravely prejudicial to create a body dealing with development and such a body fails to recognise the development role of the Governor at the county level,” he said.

While indicating that they will ignore the Act, Ruto explained that the law also negates the role of the Members of the County Assembly.

“Section 54 of the County Governments Act has already created a county intergovernmental forum chaired by the Governor, for the harmonisation and coordination of development activities,” he said.

The Governors are also dissatisfied by the allocation to the counties of 43 percent of national revenue as contained in another law signed on Wednesday by the President.

Ruto said the national government had based calculations on the 2009/ 2010 financial collection when allocating Sh226 billion to the units of devolution.

The Governors say they will push for allocations to be based on the latest revenue collection, which would have seen counties receive twice the amount allocated.

“Yes, we appreciate the amount allocated and we will use the money. However, that is not enough, that amount was based on the revenue collected five years ago. The amount should be calculated on the latest revenue collected and that would be last year. Sh226 billion is 25 percent of last year’s revenue collection of Sh976 billion,” he said.

He further emphasised the need for the national government to be on the same page with county governments with regard to the division of revenue.

“What the President did actually helps in the push for a referendum. It actually shows that this is an indication that we are not on the same page and that should change,” he stated.

The Opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) has also objected the allocations, saying Sh226.7 billion accounts for less than 21 percent of the national revenue.

“It is a deception cleverly calculated to hoodwink Kenyans into thinking that if you have achieved 40 percent, you do not need a referendum, but Kenyans know and we are going out of our way to hold rallies to tell Kenyans what we are looking for,” CORD co-principal Moses Wetangula said.

He said the Opposition wants the Constitution to peg allocations to the counties at 40 percent of the national budget as opposed to the current provision of 15 percent of the total audited accounts approved by Parliament.

“We do not want to be tied to Audits. We want the budget because when the government prepares estimates, they have projections. Once we make those projections, you get an aggregate and you simply split, 40 percent counties,” he stated.

The move by the President is seen as one of the major strategies by the government to neutralise the referendum calls advanced by Opposition CORD coalition which has accused the government of under-funding counties.

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