Senate in new push for Transition Authority term’s extension

The Senate’s legal affairs committee has proposed an amendment to the Transition Authority's Act.

Saturday February 6 2016

The Senate in session. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP.

The Senate in session. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP.  

By MOSES ODHIAMBO
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The Senate has started a fresh push for extension of the Transition Authority (TA)’s term to enable it address the transfer of Sh143 billion assets owned by defunct local authorities.

The Senate’s legal affairs committee has proposed an amendment to the Transition Authority's Act through a Bill to be discussed when the Senate resumes its sittings.

Senators, at a press conference in Kisumu, said the law will pave way for the extension of the term of the agency.

Under the law, TA is mandated to transfer functions, assets and liabilities to county governments.

The legislators Friday rejected calls from their colleagues in the national and county assemblies that the transition agency is disbanded at the end of its term in March this year.

Speaking at a press conference in Kisumu, Senators Boni Khalwale (Kakamega), Mr Kimani Wamatangi (Kiambu), Eng Muriuki Karue (Nyandarua), Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kisumu), Mr Kennedy Okong’o (Nyamira) and Ms Martha Wangari (Nominated) said the TA must stay put until they finish the work for which it was established.

They said the assets might be lost if the authority was disbanded haphazardly, adding that the intergovernmental agency that was due to take over the role was still incapable of tackling the monumental task.

Mr Amos Wako (Busia senator and chair of legal affairs committee of the Senate) said the Bill was ready for first reading.

He said the TA must be allowed to complete the works for which it was established, adding that the body still had many critical assignments which are pending.

“We are defending the authority since we need an agency which is independent of the national and county governments. They have a role to ensure the constitutional provisions for the transition are adhered to,” Mr Wako said.

Dr Boni Khalwale, who is the Senate Public Accounts and Investment Committee’s chairman, said the TA was yet to deal with transfer of assets and liabilities of the defunct local authorities.

He said the push for the disbandment of the transition agency was worrying especially in the face of reports that assets of defunct municipal councils were yet to be accounted for fully.

RECOVER ASSETS

They demanded that assets transferred to individuals, which they attributed to the clamour for disbandment of TA, must be recovered.

The senators said the only body that could independently do the recovery was the one being hounded out of office at the expiry of its term.

“As custodians of the interest of county governments at the senate, we feel it is premature for the transition agency to leave much as its term expires next month,” Dr Khalwale said.

He said the Sh5 billion casino and betting industry, which is one of the contentious issues at the heart of the push for the disbandment, were yet to be dealt with.

“We know there are contests between county governments and other national government institutions in over the management of the betting industry,” Dr Khalwale said.

“Yes, the law says the intergovernmental agency will take over. As Senate, we fear that they are still not able to tackle the task,” he said.

The team blamed the push on ignorance by Members of the National Assembly members who do not know what is at stake.

The senators also said governors only want to escape dealing with the liabilities accrued by the defunct authorities which they are expected to settle.

The group said counties can only borrow after the end of three years since their inception.

“When county governments engage in unchecked borrowing, the public debt will rise to a level where monies allocated to them will only be used to settle the loans at the expense of service delivery,” Mr Wamatangi said.