Assemblies forum threaten to shoot down BBI report
Ward representatives yesterday threatened to shoot down the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report unless it is reviewed to enhance the powers of the county assemblies, the executive committee members said yesterday.
Through their umbrella body, the County Assemblies Forum (CAF), the MCAs warned that the report will not get the backing of the requisite 24 county assemblies in order to be subjected to a national referendum unless it also guaranteed them financial autonomy.
The MCAs noted that it was imperative that the law is changed to grant county assemblies full financial independence from county governments tov enable them perform their oversight role.
They also demanded that the Senate’s powers as the devolution watchdog be enhanced and the Ward Development Fund (WDF) increased from the current 5 percent to 30 percent among a raft of other demands.
Said Johnson Osoi, the chairman of the Forum’s executive committee; “The BBI should insulate county assemblies’ budgets from arbitrary or politically motivated interference by the county executive to kill oversight role of the assemblies.”
He protested that Kenyans have suffered because the current arrangement gives governors sweeping powers to manage county finances exposing the MCAs to manipulation.
Osoi also said that the county assemblies want the issue of financial allocation and management in the counties entrenched in law and clear sanctions for lack of adherence provided for to ensure strict adherence.
“This is the only way we can ensure the constitutionally provided mandate of oversight by MCAs is effective.
We recommend a comprehensive scientific costing of devolved and national functions and that devolved functions are followed by funds on a pro-rata basis from the shareable national revenue,” the Kajiado County Assembly Speaker added.
The forum also demanded that county executive committee members be appointed from among sitting MCAs on a 50-50 gender basis.
“We further want the benefits of the members of the national assembly to cascade to MCAs,” he added.
The forum also wants BBI to entrench CAF in the Intergovernmental Relations Act with express representation in the Intergovernmental Budget and Economic Council (IBEC) and the National Summit.
They argue that entrenching the forum in law will allow it to access funding from the exchequer.
He said CAF is undertaking comprehensive consultation to look at how the provisions of the BBI will benefit the citizens who elected them.
“We will then inform the nation of the considered position of the County Assemblies Forum on the BBI.
However, we support all the Constitutional reforms that seek to ensure that Kenya remain a united, peaceful, inclusive, equitable and prosperous nation devoid of ethnic antagonism and divisive politics,” he said.
A series of other forums are lined up before next Friday’s grand declaration with the Executive Committee of the County Assemblies Forum set to reconvene on Wednesday and the Governing Council on Thursday next week.
The CAF chairman, Nyandarua County Assembly speaker, Ndegwa Wahome said the Forum wants to have a meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader, Raila Odinga to discuss issues affecting them.
“We would like to bring to the attention of the two principals of the ‘Handshake’ that bore the BBI process that county assemblies are oversight institutions and are critical through-out the process,” he said.
He said that it should be remembered that it is the county Assemblies that will debate and vote for the BBI first, and for them to pass it to give Kenyans opportunity to vote for it in the proposed referendum they should be listened to.