- The lack of a universal legal framework to allow for funding of the county regional blocs has starved regional economic blocs of funds
- COG chief executive Mary Mwiti says five out of the seven blocs are struggling to get funding, and have been forced to rely on development partners for support.
The lack of a universal legal framework to allow funding of county regional blocs has starved them of funds, threatening their existence.
Council of Governors CEO Mary Mwiti has said five out of the seven regional economic blocs are struggling to get funding, and have been forced to rely on development partners for support.
“There have emerged challenges relating to the process and sources of funding and resource flow to the institutions,” Mwiti said in a letter to the Senate.
Only two out of the seven county regional economic blocs are funded by taxpayers, the Council of Governors revealed.
Mwiti told the Senate that only the South Eastern Kenya Economic Bloc and Frontier Counties Development Council are funded by the member counties.
The two have enacted ‘supportive legal and policy framework’ to allow for their funding by their member counties.
Sekeb has three members—Makueni, Kitui and Machakos—,while FCDC has 10 members—Garissa, Isiolo, Wajir, Mandera, Marsabit, Tana River, Lamu, Samburu, Turkana and West Pokot.
“The activities of the bloc are funded by individuals within their existing structures,” Mwiti said.
“This is because there has been no legal framework for transferring funds to the blocs. However, with the passage of SEKEB Act, the framework transfer of funds within the law will be developed,” she added.
FCDC, on the other hand, has enacted FCDE Act that allows its members to contribute funds for running of its activities.
The other five are funded by the development partners as they have not domesticated laws to allow their counties to contribute funds to them.
They are North Rift Economic Bloc, Central Region Economic Bloc, Lake Basin economic bloc, Jumuiya Ya Kaunti Za Pwani and Narok-Kajiado Economic bloc which has two members.
The entities have established structures, including secretariats led by CEOs.
Mwiti was responding to a letter by the Senate’s County Investment and Special Funds Committee that demanded the source of funding for the regional blocs.
The committee had raised concerns that while counties had established the regional blocs and drawing public money to fund them, their accounts have never been audited. This is because the blocs are not anchored in law.
“All over the world, we have regional blocs, we have EAC, Ecowas, EU and many others. So, even our counties are right to come together as a team to advance the interests of their people,” committee chairman Godfrey Osotsi had said.
The Vihiga senator added, “But as the watchdog and as the people’s representative, we need to know how these funds are utilised now that they have never been audited. We want to look for a way of anchoring them in law.”
In the letter, Mwiti, on behalf of the council, defended the establishment of the entities even without enabling the legislation.
“There are legal provisions enabling and supporting county governments to work together,” Mwiti said.
She cited Article 189(2) of the Constitution, which provides that ‘government at each level, and different governments at the county level shall cooperate in the performance of functions and exercise powers and for that purpose, may set up joint committees and joint authorities.
The Article, she said, is given effect through the provisions of the Inter-Government Relations Act which provides for inter and intra-structures for consultation and cooperation.
Further, Section 6(3) of the County Governments Act, 2012, provides that a county government may enter into partnerships with any public or private organisation in accordance with the provisions of any law.
However, the CEO said running of the blocs have run into challenges including lack of a specific law for the establishment of the county regional economic blocs.
“The above challenges have necessitated the need for regional economic blocs to develop supportive legal and policy framework to inform their opponents,” she said.