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New Bill gives MCAs control over billions

A Bill expected to give MCAs control over billions of shillings in devolved funds will be introduced in Parliament this week.

The County Wards Development Equalisation Fund Bill 2018 is the brainchild of Murang’a Senator Irungu Kang’ata.

It proposes MCAs should be given control of not less than eight per cent of all funds sent to their respective counties each year.

Under the proposals in the Bill that has already been published, each of the country’s 1,450 wards will directly get part of the funds that have in the past remained in the hands of governors.

“The Fund shall comprise at least eight per cent of the share of revenue allocated to the respective county government for the respective year; and such other monies that may lawfully accrue to the Board in the discharge of its functions under this Act,” it reads.

To ensure compliance, the Controller of Budget shall not authorise the release of funds to counties that do not send money to the wards.

Money paid to the wards will be kept in a special account from which they would be drawn to fund ward projects.

“There shall be opened and maintained a bank account by the county treasury into which all funds allocated to the wards shall be deposited for the purpose of disbursements under this Act…” the Bill states.

“The signatories to an account shall be the fund manager and three other persons appointed by the Board from among its members.”

The sponsor of the Bill yesterday told The Standard the proposed law would ensure equal development in the wards.

Kang’ata argued that giving MCAs money for development would unshackle them from the whims of governors, whom he claimed had been using carrot-and-stick methods to keep MCAs in check.

“There is skewed development in favour of some wards. This Bill will ensure equity. It will also give MCAs independence from governors. Currently, you have to be an ally of the governor if you want your ward to develop,” explained the senator.

“With money going directly to the wards, there will be better oversight. The Bill also promotes public participation as wananchi on the ground will get an opportunity to elect people who are part of the committee on the ground. Currently, there is no public participation,” he said.

Last year, an attempt by some county assemblies to establish county development kitties failed after Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo termed the move illegal.

In a circular, Ms Odhiambo explained that establishment of the kitty was in violation of Regulations 197 of the Public Finance Management Act 2012.

Yesterday, Kang’ata dismissed fears his Bill could run into similar trouble, explaining that Parliament reserved the right to make laws on devolved funds.

“Counties were trying to establish the fund using the assemblies. This was in conflict with the law. In our case, the Court of Appeal has pronounced itself on the power of Parliament in making laws on devolved funds. So long as the Bill is not giving MCAs any direct role in the management of funds, there is no problem with the proposal,” said the senator.

“If the Controller of Budget attempts to place roadblocks on the proposal, then that will be wrong. She needs to appraise herself on the Court of Appeal’s decision.”

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