BBI retains powerful President who appoints Prime Minister

BBI team says its report contains proposals in line with the views presented by Kenyans.

In Summary

• The report proposes that Kenyans continue to elect their President who remains the Head of State and Government.

• Another proposal is that the runner-up in a Presidential election becomes an ex-officio Member of Parliament and the Leader of the Official Opposition.

BBI chairman Yusuf Haji, Deputy President William Ruto and President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House during the handing over of the BBI report.
BBI chairman Yusuf Haji, Deputy President William Ruto and President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House during the handing over of the BBI report.
Image: PSCU

Kenya will see the return of the position of Prime Minister if the Building Bridges Initiative Taskforce proposals are to be implemented in full.

The BBI team appeared to make proposals that would lead Kenyans to a referendum with all proposal made likely to come through Bills or policy changes.

The report proposes that Kenyans continue to elect their President who remains the Head of State and Government.

 

The report also says that the Deputy President should remain the principal assistant to the President and will be the running mate.

The President will then appoint an MP from the largest party or coalition in Parliament as Prime Minister who will take up the position after being approved by Parliament.

The report adds that the Prime Minister shall have supervision and execution of the day-to-day functions and affairs of the Government.

"The Prime Minister shall be the Leader of Government Business in the National Assembly. On the President’s tasking, the Prime Minister will chair Cabinet sub-committees," it says.

President Uhuru Kenyatta was on Tuesday provided with a brief and will be launching the report to the public on Wednesday.

During the meeting with the taskforce at State House, Nairobi, the President secured the support of opposition leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto for the report.

"The Taskforce has offered advice as per its mandate. BBI does not replace any legal or constitutional body. Its recommendations are just that: recommendations based on listening to Kenyan citizens and experts," the briefing document says.

 

The BBI proposed that the Prime Minister may be dismissed by the President or through a vote of no confidence in the National Assembly.

Another proposal is that the runner-up in a Presidential election becomes an ex-officio Member of Parliament and the Leader of the Official Opposition.

However, this is if his or her party is not represented in the Government, or is the leader of a coalition of Parliamentary parties not represented in the Government.

Another proposal is that the Cabinet shall be drawn from both parliamentarians and technocrats with the latter being made ex-officio Members of Parliament upon successful Parliamentary approval.

The BBI team has also recommended that government should immediately ban all public officers from doing business it as a way to tame corruption.

The team wants the government to reverse and vanquish the 1970 Duncan Ndegwa Commission that allowed public officers to engage in business with government.

Ndegwa who was then the chairman of Central Bank concluded that civil servants should be allowed to engage in private business as a means of augmenting their poor pay.

This was after the late President Jomo Kenyatta administration admitted that it was unable to improve employment terms of the civil servants.

While the law currently does not allow the public officers to do business with government, some uses proxy companies to bid and lobby for multi billion tenders.

The BBI report also proposes that counties be allocated 35 per cent of the national revenue.

Currently, the Constitution provides that at least 15 per cent be allocated to the devolved units. The national government is, however, at liberty to allocate more than 15 per cent of the national revenue to the counties.

“When dividing revenues between counties, use a formula that focuses on ensuring services reach the actual settlements of people so that resources are not allocated on the basis of inhibited landmass,” the BBI report reads.

While noting that devolution has largely been a success, the BBI team said devolved units are still frustrated by serious challenges that need to be addressed.

 The report has recommended that the government builds the economy from the grassroots for Kenyans to realise meaningful development. 

It said the tax base should be broadened but the overall taxation made lower relative to competitor economies regionally and globally.

“We must entirely transform the way our economy operates if we are to deal with the present lack of jobs,” the report reads. 

In this regard, the BBI team said the government should empower young people to have more opportunity and income. 

“Minimise taxation of new and small businesses by giving them a tax holiday of at least seven years as a support to youth entrepreneurship and job creation,” the report said.

report has proposed that a commission should be established to manage human resource within the heath sector.

The report recommended the establishment of an independent Health Service Commission to take over from counties.

“Transfer of the health sector personnel element from county governments to an independent Health Service Commission to enable sharing of the very limited health experts,” the report stated.

Counties have been in charge of human resource  management of health workers since the function was devolved at the onset of devolution in 2013.

It will be a big win for women if a proposal is adopted to compel candidates vying for governor to pick deputies of the opposite sex.

The Building Bridges Initiative report proposes that in future, governors and their deputy governors should be of the opposite sex.

During the last election, only a handful of governors appointed deputies from the opposite gender.

The state should eliminate sitting allowances of public officers in both the national and the county governments, the Building Bridges Initiative task force recommends.

MPs and MCAs have been accused of earning huge sitting allowances.

In July 2017, the Salaries and Remuneration Commission abolished MCAs’ mileage reimbursements, sitting allowances for plenary sessions and special responsibility perks.

But last year, the High Court reinstated the benefits, forcing the SRC to return the allowances.