County residents could have powers to dictate projects their governor and MCAs should roll out if Senators approve a proposed Bill.
The County Wards (Equitable Development) Bill 2018, sponsored by a Senate committee, gives people powers to identify ward projects to be implemented instead of politicians.
The Finance and Budget committee chaired by Senator Mohamed Mahamud (Mandera) argues that this would enhance public participation and further localize development that benefits residents.
“The county executive committee member shall coordinate the process of identifying projects for implementation under this Act in the respective wards and shall, for this purpose ensure public participation,” reads the Bill.
The Finance committee cites Article 174 of the Constitution which gives people self-governance powers by participating in state matters affecting them and the right for communities to manage their own affairs including development.
Several findings have shown that many residents are not involved in decision-making in the county matters despite the constitutional requirement for the county and national governments to ensure the public participate.
Makueni County led by Governor Kivutha Kibwana has been singled out as the only devolved unit of the 47 that involves residents fully.
The county public service officers deployed by the county executive committee member will be required to engage village councils in identifying projects residents want to be implemented.
The county public service officers will then present the proposals to their boss to submit to the cabinet for “prioritization and determination” in implementing projects in each ward.
The cabinet will give priority to marginalized wards or ones that require special or urgent intervention as selected by a special county's panel.
This, according to the Bill, will help bring the standards of living of residents in marginalized units at par with their colleagues in other wards.
“The county executive committee member shall ensure that the allocation of a specific amount for ward development projects identified is not less than fifteen percent of the county government's allocation for development expenditure,” it reads.
The Mohamud led Finance committee notes that the proposed percentage is in line with Section 107 of the Public Finance Management Act and that funds for the projects should be disbursed on time.
A county official or anyone found to have assisted the misappropriation funds for the project would face a jail term of over five years or a Sh500,000 or both.
MCAs will play a crucial role in approving or rejecting the criteria the county executive will use to fund the projects.
“A project meets the criteria for funding under this Act if it is a community-based project which aims at ensuring the development of infrastructure that would promote delivery of basic services and goods to persons residing at the lowest unit of decentralization established,” reads the Bill.
Funds set aside for a particular project in a financial year will not be reallocated without approval by the county assembly. In event of reallocation, the funds should finance another project in the same ward.
The 47 county governments would be required to come up with a law to fix the minimum and a maximum number of projects to be implemented in every ward for “efficiency and effectiveness” in using public funds.