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Counties to ignore advertisement ban

Counties will seek clarification on the new directive barring government departments from advertising in private media.

Council of Governors Chief Executive Officer Jacqueline Mogeni told the Nation that counties would not act on a Cabinet decision until it is protected by law.

“That decision cannot hold water yet because a Cabinet decree is not law,” said Ms Mogeni. “I cannot implement it because I still do not know if procurement laws have changed.”

A February 8 national government memo directed its departments to stop advertising with private media but channel their announcements through the government publication My Gov. 

Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua said this would help to reduce the cost of advertising and warned that those who go against the directive will foot the bills.

But on Monday, CoG, the body that brings together all 47 county governments, said while they receive money from the national budget, the devolved units will demand more discussions on how to implement the policy.

“Indeed, we spend a lot of money on advertisement in private media and I think we are not getting benefits commensurate to our expenditure and we have had discussions even at the Council of Governors,” said Ms Mogeni. “But we should have more consultations with the stakeholders.”

The CoG, which was copied in the memo, said it was worried that certain clauses in the procurement law require advertisement in newspapers of national circulation and Ms Mogeni said county officials may be targeted for sanctions if they violate it.

READ: Government sets own paper, bans adverts

My Gov will be circulated through The Star and the People Daily newspapers, themselves privately owned.

The Procurement Act 2015 requires State entities to advertise in designated government portals but not everyone in Kenya has internet access.

On Monday, Information, Communication and Technology Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru promised to clarify the policy to the media at a scheduled press briefing on Tuesday morning.

The controversial policy has come under criticism.

“The government ought to see the private media as an agent of development, not a competitor,” Imenti Central Member of Parliament Gideon Irea said on Monday.

Speaking to the Nation, Media Council of Kenya CEO Haron Mwangi hinted at suspicions that the directive, which he argued could dent profits in private media outlets, is a result of bad media coverage of the government.

“If they are making this decision because the media have not portrayed them positively, then that is not going to solve the problem,” said Dr Mwangi and added: “Don’t just depend on the government for money. So long as it is quality, I don’t see why Kenyans will not pay for it.”

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