NAIROBI, Kenya Jul 10 – The leadership of the County Assemblies is lobbying the National Assembly to approve a Bill which if enacted will give county assemblies financial autonomy to enable them discharge their mandate effectively.
Currently, the budget of the legislators at the 47 devolved units is disbursed jointly with that of the County Executive before it is shared at the county level.
Speaking when he presented a memorandum to National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, officials of the County Assemblies Forum (CAF) led by Wahome Ndegwa stressed the need for the County Wards Bill to be enacted into law, because it is key in ensuring that development is achieved equitably across their counties.
“The County Budget making cycle has become a war point between Governors and County Speakers. While certain county assemblies may pronounce themselves to an irreducible minimum on allocations going to roads, health or even water, they are not based on any legal framework and they may be vetoed by Governors without any recourse from the Assemblies”, noted Wahome.
The CAF leadership in a memorandum to the National Assembly cites among others, cases where some areas which are deemed to be unfriendly to the County Governments have been receiving skewed budgetary allocations thus slowing development.
Wahome, who is the Nyandarua County Assembly Speaker, noted that lack of autonomy leaves them at the mercy of County Executives, thus compromising their capacity to oversight the executive.
They also cited cases where budgetary allocations with regard to capital investments are heavily concentrated at the County Headquarters, to the chagrin of County Assemblies who are only required by law alter the County Budgets to the ceiling of 1 per cent.
Speaker Justin Muturi on his part underscored the role of independence of County Assemblies in promoting their efficiency in the oversight of the County Governments, and in strengthening devolution in Kenya.
“It is prudent that County Assemblies gain financial autonomy from the County Executive which is critical for effective discharge of your Mandate. This will strengthen your oversight role and avert situations where manipulation by the County Executive cripples your ability to execute your mandate”, observed Speaker Muturi.
The County Ward (Equitable Development) Bill, 2018, mirrors the National Government Constituencies’ Development Fund which is currently implemented under the leadership of the Members of the National Assembly.
The Bill which is sponsored by Senate Majority Whip and Muranga Senator Irungu Kang’ata is currently under consideration by the National Assembly after the Senate referred it there for concurrence.
The Senate Committee on Devolution has already made a legislative proposal to amend Section 119 of the Public Finance Management Act , 2012, thus guaranteeing county assemblies autonomy from the county executives in their finances, but this requires the concurrence of both Houses to be enacted.
The meeting also deliberated the proposal by CAF for its entrenchment in law as the National Commission for County Legislatures with operational autonomy and funding from the exchequer and a proposal for the provision of Pensions for Members of County Assemblies, both of which require critical support from the National Assembly.