By Obegi Malack
Members of county Assemblies have expressed their frustration to the legislatures for failing to pass the County Wards Development Equalisation Fund Bill, 2018.
Members of County Assemblies claim the senators and MPs had no good intentions in rejecting the proposed bill. The bill has sparked a row between the national government, governors, senators, Members of parliament and MCAs.
The bill seeks to promote equitable and decentralized development across the country, through a uniform development kitty for each ward to fund projects that fall under county governments. The bill would give MCAs developmental roles just like their National Assembly counterparts under National Government Constituency Development Fund (NGCDF).
It proposes that each county allocates at least 15 per cent of the total development budget to the kitty.
One of the guiding principles of the bill is to promote equity and the need to ensure that persons residing in marginalized areas in the wards access facilities and services that are available to other residents in the respective county and the promotion of the national values and principle of governance set out under Article 10 of the Constitution.
The bill which is the brainchild Senate Majority Whip and Muranga Senator Irungu Kangata was rejected by the two houses, speakers Justin Muturi (National Assembly) and Kenneth Makelo Lusaka (Senate) will now name legislatures to sit in a joint mediation committee tasked with building consensus on the bill.
Kang’ata had said he was frustrated after colleagues rejected the bill but is optimistic a negotiation deal would be arrived at by the mediation committee.
MCAs had claimed that devolution is not felt in the grassroots, with resources under the control of governors.
Ngong Ward Robert Sungura said the bill will be a plus to MCAs to control how the funds will be utilized in their Wards.
“This will give us a go ahead to form project management committee, is not a selfish move since the funds will go direct to mwananchi” he said.
Nominated MCA Wachuka Mathenge said the bill is important since it will get services closer to electorates, she said every MCA should get the funds to develop the regions they represent.
“MCAs have no control of any funds and we have witnessed MCAs who criticize the governor not getting funds this bill will solve such issues,” she said.
Speaking during a public participation forum in Ngong organized by Forum for Women in Development, Democracy and Justice the nominated MCA said the MCAs are contact persons for wananchi and should manage the funds.
The National Treasury had opposed the bill, warning that it would take over the powers of county executives and would lead to inequalities and marginalization of some communities
Former Controller of Budget, Agnes Odhiambo had also opposed the bill saying it runs contrary to the provisions of the Constitution on the prudent use of public finances.
Odhiambo had also opposed the establishment of ward development boards claiming both the national and county governments were grappling with a high wage bill because they are overstuffed.
Council of Governors had outlawed Ward Development Funds that had been created by some counties arguing that the funds were against the constitution since they were supervised by the MCAs.