Regional authorities’ fate hangs in balance over devolution

Wednesday March 2 2016

National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry

National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich at a past event. He has said the Treasury is facing the dilemma of how to deal with regional development authorities after some of their functions were devolved to counties. FILE PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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The Treasury is facing a dilemma over how to deal with regional development authorities after some of their functions were devolved to counties, Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich has said.

Mr Rotich told the Senate’s Finance Committee at a meeting Tuesday that the government will have an idea on what to do with the authorities in about two weeks when a committee handling the matter presents its report.

He said the quandary arises from the fact that the authorities have ongoing projects and contracts.

They were also created under Acts of Parliament, which makes them legal entities.

On the other hand, they also handle projects that cut across several counties, which would make it difficult to break them up and hand over their ongoing work and staff to county governments.

“There is still a case for regional projects. A dam can serve five counties. The problem is who will own the entity, how they will do regional projects and how they will be used,” he told the committee, chaired by Mandera Senator Billow Kerrow.

The six regional authorities are the Coast Development Authority, Kerio Valley Development Authority, Ewaso Nyiro South Development Authority, Ewaso Nyiro North Development Authority, Lake Basin Development Authority and Tana-Athi Development Authority.

The authorities were created to coordinate the work of government agencies working on development projects in their regions of coverage.

The Treasury CS said the matter is also likely to be handled in the planned reform of parastatals.

Among the planned reforms would be the creation of an overall parastatal under the proposed Government Owned Entities Act.

The parastatal would then be charged with governing State corporations owned by both the national and county governments.

Governors have cited the continuing existence of the regional authorities as one of the issues that needs to be dealt with for full devolution to be realised.

The authorities were previously managed under the Ministry of Regional Development.