NO HURRY

Blow to LREB as Bungoma MCAs reject membership bill

Assembly members say it doesn't make economic to allocate funds when the county has many problems to fix.

In Summary

• LREB was formed in 2015 and comprises Bomet, Bungoma, Busia, Homa Bay, Kakamega, Kericho, Kisii, Kisumu, Migori, Nandi, Nyamira, Siaya, Trans Nzoia and Vihiga.

• So far, the bloc has pooled Sh1.6 billion of the required Sh2.6 billion to establish a bank, with each of the member counties required to contribute Sh200 million.

Bungoma county assembly
Bungoma county assembly
Image: JOHN NALIANYA

The Lake Region Economic Bloc has suffered a blow after Bungoma MCAs shot down a bill that sought to have the county join the entity. 

LREB was formed in 2015 and comprises Bomet, Bungoma, Busia, Homa Bay, Kakamega, Kericho, Kisii, Kisumu, Migori, Nandi, Nyamira, Siaya, Trans Nzoia and Vihiga counties.

It became a legal entity last year. Six counties were required to pass the LREB Bill to make it a legal entity. Counties that had ratified it by then were Kakamega, Busia, Migori, Nyamira, Kisii, Kisumu and Vihiga.

So far, the bloc has pooled Sh1.6 billion of the required Sh2.6 billion to establish a bank, with each of the member counties required to contribute Sh200 million. Ten counties have made their contributions — some in part.

Speaking during a debate on the bill, Lwandanyi MCA Tonny Barasa it would not make economic sense to channel such funds to the bloc when the county is straining to provide basic amenities.

“We cannot channel Sh200 million yearly to construct the LREB headquarters in Kisumu when Bungoma is straining to provide basic economic infrastructure," Barasa said.

Ndivisi MCA Martin Wanyonyi Pepela said Bungoma is in no hurry to join the bloc and allocate huge sums of money.

“As it stands, the county has so many problems to address, including the coronavirus pandemic,” he said.

Counties such as Nandi and Kericho have also declined to join the bloc after their assemblies shot down similar bills. 

There have been concerns about the delay to instate the bank. Once established, members will be allowed to borrow money at low rates.

The initial plan was to buy a majority stake in an existing bank and open the proposed regional bank by 2018 but this was shelved following a delay by some counties to remit contributions.

The county assemblies were also expected to come up with relevant bills to safeguard the bank.