The national government says it is satisfied with what it has done to ensure devolution takes root in Kenya.
In a speech read on his behalf by Devolution Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri at the close of the Fourth Annual Devolution Conference 2017 in Naivasha on Thursday, Deputy President (DP) William Ruto told governors that the national government had done “what was required” to enable county government’s work.
The government, he said, had transferred resources and functions to counties on time, it would continue to do so and synergies between the two levels of government had ensured devolution flourishes.
“Four years later, I am ready to stand here today and say that the national government and its institutions have done what was required to enable county government’s work. And this is just the beginning,” the DP said.
The government’s effort would now turn to “unleashing” resources and capacity of devolved functions, “to the maximum” so that Kenyans reap full benefits of devolution, he said.
For instance, the DP said, the government had submitted proposed amendments to the Senate that would see the fuel levy fund to county governments increased to 25 per cent from the current 15 per cent.
He asked counties to complement “the already heavy” investment by the national government on roads by expanding those under their jurisdiction.
“I want to reiterate, if it is not self-evident, the tangible commitment of the Jubilee government not only in resources we allocate to counties but also in our endeavour to strengthen intergovernmental institutions to improve cooperation between the two levels of government,” Mr Ruto said.
He asked the county governments leadership to guard against undermining devolution “at its most critical level” through misuse of resources, corruption and waste.
“We have to be prudent and measured in expenditure of public resources. They are not at our disposal for our own grandiose but to make our people realise service and development,” Mr Ruto said.
In the speech, the DP observed that because counties had become “real vehicles of development”, the race for governorship in the August 8 General Election would be “dramatic and hot”.
“You can effect change at the county level and majority of you have proved this in your leadership and management of county affairs,” he said.
“Some have done other things,” he said in reference to corruption in some of the counties.
The DP singled out the rolling out of 2,100km of National Optic Fibre Backbone project in all counties and the maternity healthcare program as some of the successes as a result of national and county governments working together.
“Today, the public health facilities are delivering over one million newborns, up from 460,000 before the program started,” he said.
The national government had allocated two billion in conditional grants to vocational training colleges in the current financial year, that would help equip the institutions in all counties, the DP said.
Mr Kiunjuri promised that the national government would implement the resolutions made at the conference.
Senate Deputy Speaker Kembi Gitura said the first four years of devolution were very encouraging and a success story.
“I can see, yes, there is hope, if we address the issues discussed at the conference. When we come to the fifth devolution, I am sure the success story will be greater,” he said.
This fourth devolution conference is the last before this year’s General Election.