When the National Assembly debated the Finance Bill 2018, it was clear that the halving of the new value added tax on petroleum products to eight per cent by the President would not significantly ease the burden on the common man. This is because the higher kerosene, diesel and petrol prices would increase the cost of living.
The genesis of taxing petroleum products is known. Apparently, Kenya has been borrowing heavily to, ostensibly, fund development projects in the face of ever-increasing budget deficits. But a huge chunk of the money goes to waste in expenses such as salaries and allowances for a bloated government.
I recently read that some people were claiming that the current government deserves a pat on the back for struggling to implement its pre-election promises under difficult circumstances. They alluded to the fact that former presidents — including Mwai Kibaki, who is remembered for, among other mega projects, the Thika Superhighway — operated under the old constitution. Yet the new supreme law promulgated eight years ago came with many levels of representation.
Luckily, the drafters of the 2010 Constitution saw that coming and created an entire chapter to deal with grievances.
The Sixth Schedule was intended to guide the implementers of the Constitution to progressively achieve two-thirds gender proportion, a lean Cabinet and restructuring of some services.
I feel that the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) of Kenya, which was chaired by lawyer Charles Nyachae, failed by not properly advising the government on the restructuring of the provincial administration. The CIC was tasked with ensuring that important articles were implemented to the letter.
The Sixth Schedule — Transitional and Consequential Provisions — Devolved Government, Part 4, Article 17 states: “Within five years after the effective date, the national government shall restructure the system of administration commonly known as the provincial administration to accord with and respect the system of devolved government established under the Constitution.”
Calling a referendum to address the Sixth Schedule would help us to get out of the hole of ever-increasing taxation. However, that task should not be left to the Punda Amechoka and Okoa Kenya and Punguza Mizigo crusaders. It must be a ‘Wanjiku’ project with public participation forums in places which majority of citizens can access and contribute ideas in focus group discussions.
We need to reduce the number of elective and appointed positions.
Devolved governments are supervised by the Senate, which does not need nominated representatives. Kenyans should not be paying 20 extra senators who don’t represent any county.
As the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission prepares to review constituencies, it ought to merge or scrap some of them.
A county commissioner can work directly with chiefs. That way, regional coordinators and sub-county commissioners need to go. County commissioners would then report to a principal secretary in the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government.
Also up for review is Article 152 of the Constitution, on the Cabinet. Some related ministries should be merged — such as Environment, Tourism and Minerals; Energy and Petroleum; and East African Community and Foreign Affairs.
Cabinet secretaries can be appointed from among elected members of the National Assembly or the Senate.
Creation of positions that do not add value should be scrapped, for example, chief administrative secretary. OCPDs’ work can be done by the county police commander liaising with the various officers commanding station .
Mr Namlola, the News Editor, Taifa Leo, is a development communication specialist. [email protected]