Members of County Assemblies (MCAs) in Western region have declared to continue championing the strengthening of devolved units to ensure that citizens enjoy fruits of devolution at grassroots.
The County Legislators alongside their Speakers drawn from Kakamega, Busia, Vihiga, Trans-Nzoia and Bungoma County Assemblies who met in Kakamega town on Monday, under the auspices of County Assemblies Forum (CAF) – their umbrella body, noted that it is through devolution that livelihoods of Wananchi especially rural folks can be transformed.
The more than 200 MCAs who converged for their inaugural Western cluster consultative forum made several resolutions geared towards ensuring that County Assemblies efficiently deliver their mandate.
As the representatives of the people in the smallest units of development (ward level), they urged the national government to ensure that both development and recurrent funds are released in time for effective public service delivery in Counties.
Here is the joint communique’ of their resolutions:
The County Assemblies Forum (CAF) Western Cluster comprising of Members of Kakamega County Assembly, Busia County Assembly, Vihiga County Assembly, Trans – Nzoia County Assembly and Bungoma County Assembly had its inaugural cluster meeting at the Golf Hotel, Kakamega County today Monday 17th February, 2020.
CAF has made deliberate efforts to engage its membership since February 3, 2020 where we have been able to gather views from our members on very specific issues regarding concerns of the people they represent at the primary level of governance which is the ward, their capacity building needs, general concerns that members face in the course of their duties and last but not least, views from their wards on the Building Bridges Initiative.
The meeting today is the seventh since we began engagements with MCAs in our 8 clusters and we have been able to gather a lot from the Membership of this cluster, and the following issues have been agreed on;
1. The Division of revenue: The shareable revenue to the County Governments, as provided by the BBI report is applauded as a good proposal. However, just like all other six clusters, we propose that the minimum shareable revenue to County Governments be put at 45%.
2. The Ward Equitable Development Fund: The Senate should enact a law ensuring that the Ward is made the primary unit of allocating development funds for the county and that it further be secured in the BBI.
3. Sovereignty of County Assemblies: The BBI must address the issue regarding sovereignty of the county assemblies and ensure it is upheld. The BBI should ensure that the County Assemblies and its Members are empowered, facilitated and their capacities built to ensure that the billions of shillings that go to County Governments are well spent and that these monies are used for purposes that they are intended to secure prosperity for our people.
4. Entrenchment of CAF in Law: CAF is currently registered under the Societies Act and not recognized anywhere under the devolution statutes. This has denied it funding from the consolidated fund and diminished its visibility and image at the national level. We therefore propose that there be an entrenchment of the same in the Intergovernmental Relations Act as the same transits into the National Commission of County Legislatures (NCCL), with express representations in the Intergovernmental Budget and Economic Council (IBEC) and the National Summit.
5. Financial Autonomy: as stated clearly in our memorandum to the BBI Taskforce on February 14, 2020, we continue to petition for full financial autonomy of the County Assemblies without reliance on the executive. This is the only way within which we can ensure that the constitutionally provided mandate of oversight is effective to the MCAs. The Forum has also noted that honorable members of various County Assemblies have gone for months without salaries which is disheartening.
6. County Governance structure and functions: recognizing the principle of “Funds must Follow functions”, we recommend that there is undertaken a comprehensive scientific costing of devolved and national functions, and that devolved functions be followed by funds on a pro-rata basis from the shareable national revenue.
7. We are fully in agreement with the recommendation provided in Paragraph 164 (C) of the BBI report, which aimed at ensuring that County Assembly budgets are insulated from arbitrary or politically motivated interference by the county executive to kill oversight role of the assemblies. However, this must be expressly entrenched in law, and clear sanctions for lack of adherence provided. The Forum also recommends the expunction of article 160 of the BBI document, let it go on record that the Forum is against the Regional governments and that the ward is the primary unit of development.
8. We recommend that, the structure of the national parliament be replicated in county assemblies so that if MPS are appointed as Ministers then MCAs are appointed as CECs. Further, we recommend that the benefits of the members of the National Parliament be cascaded to MCAs.
9. There be guaranteed minimum returns requirement secured in the constitution for all cash crops to ensure that our farmers are insulated from all and unnecessary losses.
10. Pending Bills: Members have noted with concern that most County Assemblies operations are currently financially crippled as a result of failure by County Executives to pay pending bills thus making the Exchequer delay in disbursing funds to counties. We, as the CAF national office, will take this matter up with speed and address it with the necessary urgency to the Intergovernmental Budget and Economic Council on Tuesday, 18th February, 2020 and have this matter addressed with finality. More so, County Executive Committee Members (CECMs) in charge of County Treasury should not interfere with disbursement of funds to County Assemblies once the requisitions are made by the latter.
11. Regional Blocs: We resolve that all the existing county regional blocs be enacted in law, strengthened further and be able to get financial support from the national government.
Finally, we would like to restate that once we finalize our engagements of clusters on 21st February, 2020, we shall present a further Memo to the BBI team.
God Bless the County Assemblies Forum.
God bless Kenya.