14 December 2012

Kenya: Devolution Under Threat, Says Nyachae

Three independent bodies created under the new constitution have accused the Executive of undermining the devolution process.

They have instead called for a moratorium on new laws or policies seeking to allocate functions to either level of government outside the mechanism in the Transition to Devolved Government Act.

The Commission on Implementation of the Constitution, the Commission on Revenue Allocation and the Transitional Authority say the Executive plan to misuse the legislative and policy formulation process to kill devolution.

Addressing the media at a joint event within the CIC premises, CIC chairman Charles Nyachae said the current haste with which laws are passed in Parliament without the public input i suspicious.

"Some of these laws seek to hijack the devolution process as stipulated in chapter 11 of the constitution. The executive is also processing several policy positions that conflict with the constitutional provisions on devolution," says Nyachae.

"Numerous institutions are being created that have a similar effect. This capture of functions before the county governments come into effect is unconstitutional, illegal and unacceptable. These three crucial bodies were never consulted," he says.

At the center of this alarm include the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority Bill (2012), The Health Bill (2012), amendments to the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) Act and the Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Food Authority Bill (2012) and the Crops Bill (2012).

Transitional Authority boss Kinuthia Wamwangi says the envisaged laws purport to create new authorities which are against the devolved governments.

According to Wamwangi, all legislation creating new institutions and offices should be put on hold until the new county governments gome into place.

The Health Bill for instance seeks to elevate 21 district and provincial hospitals into national referral hospitals.

"Elevating these institutionals to referral points will deny 13 Counties the right to access primary health care facilities. It will also deny Counties the ability to carry out their functions of health care provision when they come into force," says Wamwangi.

CRA chairman Micah Cheserem was apprehensive that the creation of these offices places an unbearable strain on the public wage bill since many of them will lead to duplication of roles at both levels of government.

"The new institutions are setting up structures and entering into contractual agreements the consequences of which shall be a burden to the taxpayer. It will also limit the funds available for county governments to carry on their constitutional functions," Cheserem says.

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