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Governors backed in row over crop licences

Saturday August 29 2015

CIC chairman Charles Nyachae, vice-chairperson Elizabeth Muli, Kisii Speaker Kerosi Ondieki (left) and Governor James Ongwae (second left) at a meeting in Kisii on August 27, 2015.

CIC chairman Charles Nyachae, vice-chairperson Elizabeth Muli, Kisii Speaker Kerosi Ondieki (left) and Governor James Ongwae (second left) at a meeting in Kisii on August 27, 2015 on the second report on progress in implementing the Constitution. PHOTO | BENSON MOMANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

MWANIKI WAHOME
By MWANIKI WAHOME
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The Constitution Implementation Commission has supported the Council of Governors in a row with Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Authority over whose mandate it is to collect licence fees for agriculture produce in counties.

The Charles Nyachae-led commission has also recommended that an amendment to the Crops Act be done to remove the current confusion as the agriculture sector is a devolved function, adding that any other law that existed before August 27, 2010 was repudiated by the new Constitution.

“Paragraph 7 of part 2 of the fourth schedule allocates function of trade development and regulation to the county government. Paragraph 7 (b) outlines one of these as trade licences, but excluding the regulation of professions or co-operatives 7 (e). Part 1 of the fourth schedule gives responsibility of developing national standards and policies to that national government. At the same time, article 209 allows county governments to impose rates, taxes and charges for functions under their jurisdiction. Agriculture is one such function.”

Mr Nyachae said that the AFFA Act conflicts with the supreme and therefore needs to be changed.

“It thus goes without saying that Crops Act, 2013 and related laws should be amended to be in conformity with the Constitution,” Mr Nyachae said.

The controversy on whose mandate it is to collect licence fees has been going since the beginning of the year.

Last month, the Council of Governors said talks to resolve that matter failed to yield fruit and threatened to move to court for constitutional interpretation.

The council also asked farmers not to honour or accept any licensing regulations and requirements by any other authority apart from the county governments.

The governors instructed counties to enact legislation on agriculture.

Despite this order, AFFA last month proposed a revenue sharing formula with county governments on fibre crops where they expect to get 75pc of the licence fees from cotton buyers, marketing agents, ginneries and sisal factories with counties retaining 25pc.

Kenya Planters’ Co-operative Union, which has acquired licences from the Nairobi County, has found itself at the centre of the controversy, with Affa saying it does not recognise its permits adding that it can only allow the union to re-enter the coffee auction after recognition by Affa.

“We have been vindicated by the interpretation of the law by CIC. We have contracts that could be derailed by continued delay,” said KPCU chairman William Gatei.

Nairobi Coffee Exchange’s chief executive officer, Mr Daniel Mbithi, however, insisted that licences for those trading on the auction floor would only be accepted if sanctioned by AFFA, as it was affiliate of the regulator.