25 April 2018

Kenya: Tackle Delays and End Graft, Envoys Suggest

Kenya's main donors have asked the national and county government leaders to review laws governing partnerships to address delays and tame corruption.

Speaking to the Nation on the day the Fifth Devolution Conference opened in Kakamega, the UK and the US envoys said devolution would work better if the authorities addressed unnecessary delays and improved accounting for disbursed funds.

"I see, as a result of devolution, clinics being built, roads being built, services being delivered. But there are big challenges. There are inefficiencies and there are issues around corruption in some counties," US Ambassador Robert Godec said.

"Improving services to the people is important, so I hope this conference will address these issues. I think in this devolution conference, leaders can take a look at the frameworks for public-private partnerships. There are improvements that can be made. There is a lot of potential in these partnerships, but some change is needed," he added.

PARTNERSHIP

Of concern to donors is the law on public private partnership (PPP), which requires that any partnership agreement with a county government involving foreign entities be approved by the national Treasury, which also acts as a guarantor.

While this increases the credibility of the agreements and allows for public scrutiny, some governors have argued that it places them at the mercy of the national government, with all its bureaucracy.

British High Commissioner Nic Hailey told the Nation that the situation could be better addressed by improving inter-governmental relationships rather than amending the law.

CORRUPTION

"It is really important that corruption be dealt with because if money gets diverted for personal gain or patronage, I call that theft. If they fix that, devolution will work effectively," he said.

His government has been organising training workshops on governance and efficient electoral management in the counties.

"It is for Kenyans to work out the structure but one positive thing about this conference is that both the national and county governments have agreed to come together," said Mr Hailey.

"I think it will be important for county and national governments to find ways of bringing projects to fruition. I don't think that it is necessarily a problem with the law. I think it is a question of human relations," he said.

BIGGEST DONORS

The two envoys represent Kenya's biggest donors in health, education and other social amenities. Through USAid, for example, the US government funds some county programmes on TB and HIV, as well as training county workers on efficiency. Meanwhile, The UK funds programmes on combating malaria, illiteracy and strengthening electoral systems.

They spoke moments before President Uhuru Kenyatta called on county government leaders to cooperate with the national government to avoid delays.Speaking via video link from Nairobi, President Kenyatta said it was time leaders learnt from previous mistakes to eradicate inefficiency.

"We will not entertain any delays in providing resources, nor will I tolerate waste and corruption. People will be sacked. There are other Kenyans ready to take up those jobs. All we expect from civil servants is deliverables.

HEALTH"We have covered Wanjiku, and I don't want to hear that she came to hospital and there was no aspirin for her or no doctor to attend to her. We want to see clear budgets and priorities devoted to the health of your people," he said.

During his first term, governors often disagreed with the national government, which they accused of ramming projects down their throats. One of the projects that created controversy was the Sh38 billion hospital equipment project, which the national government hired but asked the counties to pay for.

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