Kudos Moses Kuria member for Gatundu South. I know your opinions and statements have not always attracted the support and admiration of all but I beg to urge right-thinking members of our Kenyan society to take a quick breath and reflect on the proposals and ideas published in Sunday Standard of 3rd Jan 2016.
The philosophical underpinning of the concept of devolution, also in other contexts called decentralization is to bring services closer to the people and enhanced efficiencies in the ways scarce resources are allocated, the manner in which decisions on priority projects are arrived at, the participation of the local communities to ensure accountability and value for money by the executive and eventually, embrace and own the projects/programs for future sustainability.
Whereas the constitution on Article 179 vests the mandate of implementation of projects to the governor and his executive committee, the key Law that operationalizes this part of the constitution, the Public Finance Management Act, 2012, requires in section (3) that these officers are accountable to the public through Parliament and County Assemblies.
Whereas I agree with the writer that ‘a governor can decide on how to spend the money as he walks’, the million dollar question is: who is supposed to ensure adherence and compliance with the laws, procedures and regulations?
John Coolidge (1933) said that “nothing is easier than spending public money. It doesn’t appear to belong to anybody.” County Assembly members, as the first line of representation of public interest as well as legislation of the same are the first port of call in ensuring accountability and prudent use of public resources. How well or effective those honorable members play out this mandate is a subject for another day.
The County government Act section (104) and Public Finance Management Act section 126 requires that every county government shall prepare a development plan every financial year which shall guide the budgeting and execution activities for that year. That particular development plan of a county is approved by the county assemblies as a guide to which sectors are going to receive allocations.
Assembly members, the general public as well as other stakeholders are thereafter expected/mandated by the constitution and other statutes to play an active oversight role during the processing of budget items as well as during implementation. The law gives every citizen a right to stand up, even go to court and demand compliance with the law, or the rights of the public to be preserved, promoted and protected.
In the year 2016, what all organs of oversight need to do and must do is to ensure that every county produces and publishes its annual development plan which should become available to the general public. County Assembly members and Controller of Budget must play by the law and ensure that they do not fall prey in conspiring to plunder public resources.
The constitution and other statutes are very clear on the imminent consequences of those officers who breach it. I’m reminded of the case facing the governor of Isiolo County who purported to implement an appropriation law which had not been processed and approved by the Assembly. Many others are facing cases and allegations of impunity and integrity issues. The day of reckoning is drawing nigh but there’s still time for redemption.
In all this we must continue asking what the apex Oversight organ in Matters County, the senate has done! It is not enough for the Senate to wait for impeachment motions or for the Oversight Committees to await reports of misappropriation to act. More importantly, the Senate should by now have come up with clearly spelt out rules and regulations on how the county development plans are aligned, factored or catered for during the budgeting process and how unbudgeted programs are prioritized to be catered for in subsequent periods when money becomes available. Section (12) of the second schedule of PFM act calls for the implementation of program based budgets. This concept requires the specification of projects, targets, timelines, key indicators, outcomes and funds allocated.
The senate must take urgent steps to ensure alignment of this document with the annual development plan and I can assure you that the rest in terms of results/outcomes will just follow naturally!
The governors will be grateful to have been guided, the assemblies and other stakeholders will be satisfied with their role and the general public will be going through a ‘feel-good-experience’.
All will be winners!
Go Moses go!! On the huge wage bill later….
By Hon. Elias P. Mbau. Former MP for Maragua and Current Chairman of CDF Board.