Each of the country’s six regional development authorities shall have its funds directly appropriated by the National Assembly if MPs pass a new Bill that also targets to limit the membership to 11 directors to curb wastage.
Remuneration, fees, or allowances paid to a member of the regional development authority board shall be done in consultation with the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, according to the Bill, which seeks to streamline the composition and operations of the regional development authorities’ boards.
The Regional Development Authorities Bill currently under consideration in the National Assembly seeks to ensure efficiency in the management of the regional authorities as well as drastically reduce unnecessary costs, especially those incurred during board meetings.
The bodies are Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA), Lake Basin Development Authority, Tana and Athi Rivers Development Authority, Ewaso Ng’iro South River Basin Development Authority, Ewaso Ng’iro North River Basin Development Authority and Coast Development Authority.
They each have 16–22 board members. Reports on the c of the authorities show that it costs each body over Sh2 million in sitting allowances for board members. For instance, KVDA has 18 board members, including CEO Sammy Naporos and chairman Jackson Kiptanui. This is notwithstanding that the boards of other state agencies operate on lean membership.
In achieving best practice in corporate governance, the Bill seeks to consolidate the laws establishing regional bodies and standardise their functions, subject to their unique areas of operation.
The board of each authority shall, at its first meeting, elect a vice chair whose gender shall be opposite that of the chairperson, who is appointed by the President.
If MPs approve the Bill, each board shall meet at least four times a year and the quorum shall be fixed at six members. It also proposes that the position of a board member become vacant if a member resigns by notice in writing to the Cabinet Secretary in charge and is absent from three consecutive meetings without the chairperson’s permission.
Leadership and Integrity
The position also falls vacant if a member is convicted of an offence and jailed for more than six months without the option of a fine, is convicted of an offence that violates the Leadership and Integrity chapter of the Constitution, is unable to discharge functions because of mental or physical infirmity, or dies.
The proposals further seek to address ethnic diversity and regional balance in the authorities as per the National Cohesion and Integrity Act. In the audited accounts of the government agencies, Auditor-General has blamed them for failure to observe ethnic balance when recruiting staff and forming boards.
KVDA is among the state institutions that have been flagged by the 2019/20 audit report for having its staff and board members largely drawn from the local ethnic community, in effect, violating the National Cohesion and Integration Act, 2008.
The report indicates that the KVDA board had 18 board members and 139 staff members. However, 88 or 68 per cent of the permanent staff were from the dominant community, as was 50 per cent of the senior management.
However, 88 or 68 percent of the permanent staff were from the dominant community, the same as 50 percent of the senior management who came from the dominant community.
Further, six or 38 percent of the board members were from the dominant community.
Section 7 of the National Cohesion and Integration Act requires that all public establishments should seek to represent the diversity of the people of Kenya in the employment of staff and that no public establishment shall have more than one-third of staff from the same ethnic community.