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Western MPs differ with governors over referendum

12 August 2014, 23:01

Nairobi - A section of Western MPs have dismissed the calls for a referendum and called on governors to give the national government time to implement the constitution saying Kenyans need to enjoy the fruit of new dispensation.

The legislators said the county bosses should instead invest in laying a strong foundation for devolution that will ensure devolution succeeds.

MP John Bunyasi (Nambale-UDF), Arthur Odera (Teso North-URP) and Alfred Agoi (Sabatia UDF) admitted that governors have genuine concerns but faulted their renewed bids for referendum terming it ill-timed and out of touch with the political mood.

"The problem is not lack of funds but poor management of funds allocated to devolved governments. Even if we increase the allocation to 60 per cent and most of the money still goes to recurrent expenditure, we are not going to achieve any development in the counties," Bunyasi declared.

Nambale MP asked the governors to utilize their current budgets as intended in the law and let Kenyans audit if the funds disbursed is not enough after five years.

He wondered why most Governors have been unable to collect revenues as the defunct local authorities despite increasing taxation avenues in the devolved structures.

"What we need in counties is a proper management of public resources. We need to ensure money is used for its intended purposes and not as governors want," said Bunyasi.

Odera explained that devolution was meant to improve lives of Kenyans by democratizing the process of development through public involvement but bemoaned that has failed terribly.

"Before we think of increasing budgetary allocation to counties, we should first review how governors have been using the money earlier send to them. If the core intention of devolution has not been achieved, then we need to correct what's ailing devolution before we increase the money," Odera told The Standard.

"Governors have refused to be accountable for the little they are given yet they want funds to be increased; that's unacceptable. If someone cannot account for KES 5 billion, how will he be accountable for more money?" posed Odera.

Odera asked governors to accept the County Government Amendment Act saying that was a noble idea that will bring together all elected leaders to foster development in counties.

"It's time governors accept to be accountable to senators because they (senators) are constitutionally empowered to play an oversight role. This is not meant to demean any person, it is for purposes of transparency and accountability in county governments, "said Odera.

Agoi said though he supports increased allocation of money to counties, he differed with the approach governor are fronting. Saying they should instead use the national assembly to push for higher allocation to counties.

"There is no need for referendum because governors can easily use the parliament to compel the national government to increase Counties budgetary allocation through a mere legislation. This will save money, time and ease tension in the country," he said.
Last week, governors named a team to spearhead their push for referendum.

The 15-members team chaired by Meru governor Peter Munya will work with a 6 member technical committee to be chaired by lawyer Wachira Maina and are tasked to draft a bill on referendum issues.

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