Our law makers are always attentive and enthusiastic when scrutinizing anything relating to their heavy perks. This excitement and attention is hardly reciprocated when important issues come to the floor of the house. Take the Distribution of Revenue Allocation Bill for Instance; National Treasury and Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) disagree on many issues with regard to funding of counties. But, MPs and Senators who should debate and provide way forward remain lethargic.
Devolution was supposed to deal with inequitable distribution of resources that was established under the previous centralized government. In effecting this, The Distribution of Revenue Allocation Bill was expected to remedy these disparities.
Our law makers should be at the fore front asking why we have a distribution formula that does not consider all parameters to ensure equitable sharing. There is also some sort of vagueness, for instance what does the term National Interest mean, especially because Ksh. 22 billion was allocated for “National Interest” which includes: NYS re-engineering and the Laptop project. Are our law makers in agreement that these are indeed national interests?
Besides, Senators who are supposed to be the defenders of devolution should be validating CRA claims that more money needs to be given to counties because as the commission explains, counties inherited workers from the government hence increased wage bill.
Secondly, that functions have been devolved mean higher operation costs and they are putting across an important logic, that, why should the National government increase their budget while offloading some of their functions to county governments and reducing county budget despite the increasing roles they are taking up from the national government? These are issues you expect Senate or National Assembly to provide a clear voice on.
Indeed devolution is expected to bring power (involvement at policy making) to the people through public participation but that important political activity remains poorly conducted. While Kenyans are equally reluctant to engage in public participation of important political events, our law makers have not attempted to address the issue genuinely; which may mean they are not really keen on the public’s involvement. In fact both National Assembly and Senate are guilty of giving sometimes one day notices of public participation.
The plea to our law makers is that as people charged with the duty of defending the constitution, they should show more enthusiasm, especially now that a lot of institutions are still on transition to live up to the spirit of the constitution. As far as Distribution of Revenue Allocation Bill is concerned they should have debated CRA recommendations verses the National Treasury implementation plan.
Parliamentarians should give up the self-defeating flexing of muscles between them and the county government that only stalls the implementation of the new constitution. They should instead work consultatively with both county and National government and make laws that help the country see the fruits of devolution as envisioned in the constitution.
For starters, it has emerged through CRA that part of the reason counties are under-funded is because we have State Corporations performing devolved functions creating unnecessary duplication of roles. Why can’t Senators and MPs identify and deal with these State corporations that are performing devolved functions and as a result hoarding funds meant to be used by county government?
These are the issues law makers should spend more time on than worrying about raising the budget ceiling to ensure MPs elected in 2017 have a new car.