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Governors give recommendations following devolution conference

They also seek the Senate’s support to have the minimum equitable share to counties increased to 45 per cent and anchored in the Constitution.

Governors have given a raft of recommendations including funding and institutional and structural changes following the three-day annual devolution conference held in Naivasha this week. 

Among others, the governors want conditional grants directly disbursed to the county revenue fund accounts without being channelled to any line ministry. 

The governors say if implemented, the recommendations will strengthen gains achieved through devolution.

The Constitution provides that 15 per cent minimum of the shareable national revenue goes to county governments to facilitate their proper functioning and ensure continuity of county services. 

Since 2013, counties have received a total of Sh696.97 billion as shareable revenue. In the 2013-2014 financial year, Sh190 billion was disbursed to the counties, Sh226.66 billion in the 2014-2015, Sh259.7 billion in the 2015-2016 and Sh280.3 billion in the 2016-2017 financial year. 

The equitable share is currently the biggest source of revenue for counties. 

Counties, however, receive additional allocations in form of conditional grants meant for specific items in their budgets. They include the allocations under the Equalisation Fund provided under Article 204 of the Constitution, which currently benefit 14 counties categorised by the Commission of Revenue Allocation as marginalised. 

Others include funds released for Level Five hospitals and leasing of medical equipment, rehabilitation of village polytechnics, road maintenance, fuel levy fund, loans from World Bank and funds released to fund capacity building initiatives in under the Kenya Devolution Support Programme.

FIVE COUNTIES

In the 2017-2018 financial year, five counties, namely Isiolo, Lamu, Nyandarua, Tana River and Tharaka Nithi will receive a total sum of Sh605 million for the construction of their government headquarters. Each county is expected to receive Sh121 million. Money allocated under the grants cannot be diverted to other functions. 

The recommendations, made at the close of the fourth annual devolution conference on Thursday, were contained in a joint communiqué by the Council of Governors and the Ministry of Devolution during the event that was held at the Kenya Wildlife Service Training Institute in Naivasha. 

The conference was meant to assess the progress made by counties in the implementation of the devolved system and share their experiences over the last four years.

The sessions, expected to bring together more than 5,000 participants, were however poorly attended with hundreds of seats remaining unoccupied.

Some delegates never attended the sessions even though their county governments had paid for their attendance. 

The Council of Governors had asked each county to pay a sum of Sh2 million as support towards the conference. The funds were to cater for facilitation of a select number of delegates from the counties, including MCAs. 

There were, however, robust debates on various topics that included corruption in counties, an interrogation of the health system and economic opportunities and business environment in counties and preparations for the forthcoming general elections. 

Delegates at the conference, which is the last before the general elections, also discussed how county governments have fared in natural resource management to ensure sustainability, agricultural transformation and food security, rural development and access to markets and smart cities. 

BE RESTRUCTURED

In the communiqué, it was further recommended that government agencies and regional development authorities be restructured to align to the devolved system of government. Governors also want intergovernmental institutions strengthened to act independently and properly institutionalized to improve their effectiveness. 

On health, the governors want the national government to release devolved functions of health to county governments as provided in the Schedule Four of the Constitution. 

They also want the Senate to interrogate budgetary allocations to health before the funds are released to the counties.

With regard to specialised doctors and following plenary discussions on health services in the devolved units, the governors proposed the need to develop a policy that provides for remuneration based on work done. 

Further, it was recommended that more resources and efforts be directed at preventive other than curative healthcare. The governors were also tasked to ensure at least 25 per cent of their total budgets are allocated to health.

 It was resolved that Bills passed by the National Assembly and Senate should not take away devolved functions from county governments back to the national government. 

On natural resources, county governments want to receive 30 per cent of proceeds. 

The governors said that despite urban areas contributing over 60 per cent of Kenya’s GDP, there continues to be little allocation of financial resources to support urban planning, management and development by both levels of government.

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