Senate Finance and Budget committee has recommended the approval of the controversial County Wards Development Equalisation Bill, 2018, but with a raft of changes as suggested by various stakeholders during public participation.
In its report, the Senator Mohamed Mahamud-led committee has recommended that the bill, which is the brainchild of Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata, be passed but amended to ensure it meets its principle objectives and that it is also in line with the Constitution.
This followed mixed submissions from Treasury, Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA), the Controller of Budget, Council of Governors, Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya (Icpak), International Budget Partnership (IBP) and county assemblies.
The proposed law, which has already sparked a row between the national government, governors, senators and ward representatives, seeks to promote equitable and decentralised development across the country, through a uniform development kitty for each ward to run specific projects that fall under devolved functions.
The committee has proposed amendments to provide a framework for establishment of the kitty that will ensure equity as opposed to creating a uniform framework for all the 47 counties as proposed by the senator who wanted all the wards to get an equal share.
Members of the committee said it promotes equity across the counties and will address challenges of skewed development at the county level in favour of some wards and to the detriment of others.
However, stakeholders had issues with the bill treating all wards equally.
“Within Nairobi County, Lower Lindi has 23 times the number of poor people as compared with Lower Savanna ward while in Turkana County, Turkwel Ward has six times the number of poor people as compared to Lobokat Ward,” reads the report in part as submitted by IBP.
IBP submitted that allocating eight per cent of the equitable share of revenue will have different effects across the counties, whereby smaller counties will have a larger portion of their equitable share taken up by the fund.
To this effect, the committee recommended that the CRA be mandated to determine the mechanism for equitable sharing of the fund across the counties and ultimately at the ward level.
Icpak backed the bill but recommended that it be amended to avoid duplication of projects.