Fate of regional authorities unknown
18 April 2013, 17:08
Nairobi - The fate of Kenya’s six regional development authorities hangs in the balance, as the country ushers in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s regime.
The agencies, created by an act of Parliament, were mandated to plan, initiate and implement economic development programmes in their jurisdictions.
But there are concerns looming as the regional authorities could be vanquished as Kenya adopts the new devolved structure of government, where the central government will no longer control affairs of the counties.
How they should be administered and at what level has in recent weeks become a ‘hot political potato’ with leaders from various parts of the country advancing various regional and political interests.
The six regional authorities are the Coast Development Authority, Kerio Valley Development Authority, Ewaso Nyiro South Development Authority, Ewaso Nyiro North Development Authority, the Lake Basin Development Authority and the Tana-Athi Development Authority.
While some like the Lake Basin Development Authority spreads over three provinces, covering Nyanza and parts of Rift Valley and Western, others cover several counties in their areas of jurisdiction.
Before the on-going devolution process, the authorities were under the ministry of Regional Development, among those earmarked for scrapping as the lean Cabinet is formed by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The burning question however is whether they should be shared by county governments or remain under the watch of the national government.
Outgoing Regional Development minister Fred Gumo says regional bodies under the ministry were to remain under the national Government, a position that has been contested by some leaders.
“The arrangement is to have them placed under governors, who are in charge of the regions. Any contrary plan may not augur well with the mandate of the authorities,” said Gumo in Nairobi, on Wednesday.
The former minister’s views were in total contrast with those of Local Government Permanent Secretary Karega Mutahi, who says such bodies would operate under governors of counties after the March 4 polls. What remains sticky is where the agencies will get their funding.
In December last year, a transition authority chaired by Kinuthia Wamwangi summoned the management of all the six regional bodies for a consultative meeting in Nairobi and the theme was on how to transfer assets to counties. There was no consensus.
“The regional authorities are in a dilemma. We risk a situation where they may not be funded at all by both the central and regional governments,” says Obat Okongo, an economic policy analyst based in Nairobi.
He says in the event the push and pull continues, the six development authorities will have to fold their operations.
- CAJ News