MICROMANAGEMENT?

CoG calls for rejection of pension bill meant to usurp counties' roles

Governors say national government wants to be involved whenever there's big money

In Summary

• Governor Ongwae says the bill will be challenged in court if MPs pass it

• Proposed law seeks to give county workers own umbrella pension scheme 

Kisii governor James Ongwae
Kisii governor James Ongwae

The national government has been accused of plotting to use the County Government Retirements Scheme Bill 2018 to usurp the devolved units' roles.

The Council of Governors wants Parliament to reject the proposed law. The CoG claimed the bill is in bad faith and accused the state of "always encroaching their mandate whenever huge money is involved". 

Kisii Governor James Ongwae said the proposal, even if passed, will be easily challenged in courts as it breaches the existing laws. He appeared before the Senate Labour and Social Welfare Committee yesterday.

Ongwae chairs the CoG's Human Resource, Labour and Welfare committee. 

The bill, sponsored by National Assembly Majority leader Aden Duale, seeks to give thousands of county government workers their own umbrella pension scheme.

The council was particularly opposed to a motion that the government appoints the chairman of the fund through the Labour CS.

The Kisii governor said this would lead to micromanaging the workers. “It is, therefore, the council’s position that the bill ought to have been stayed to allow for consultations to build consensus and come up with a harmonised bill that captures the interests of county governments.” 

Ongwae said, “There is also an erroneous assumption that these funds belong to the national government. These belong to the employees. We must be allowed to grow; the national government must accept some functions must be given up (to counties). Their interest in this bill is to have control."

The governor also warned against compelling county workers to still contribute to the giant National Society Security Fund saying the move will overburden the workers. 

“From the bill, NSSF contribution is mandatory, what we are seeking is the complete exception as it will be expensive for our members to join two schemes." 

 

The committee chaired by Nairobi Senator Johnstone Sakaja had a session with Labour CS Ukur Yatani and County Assembly Forum to collect views on the bill.

Yatani backed the bill, saying it is the only way of ensuring the county employees’ welfare upon retirement. 

“All parties with divergent views need to come to a consensus. Let's look at the common good for county employees. They risk missing their retirement benefits if this bill is delayed longer than so far,” Yatani said.

(Edited by R. Wamochie)