Proposed changes to law pack a bagful of goodies for key groups

President Uhuru Kenyatta acknowledges greetings from Kisumu residents as he toured development projects in the county yesterday. He was accompanied by ODM leader Raila Odinga.

Photo credit: PSCU

What you need to know:

  • For governors, the BBI team has proposed an increase of allocations from 15 percent to 35 percent of the shared revenue.
  • The BBI team has proposed increasing members of the National Assembly from 349 to 360, and the Senate to 94 with one man and one woman elected from each of the 47 counties.

The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report has proposed goodies to key constituencies that will be vital to the passage of the constitutional amendment Bill in a referendum.

County assemblies, governors, Parliament, women and youth have been targeted with specific proposals to sweeten the deal for them in a strategy to shore up support for the document.

For the county assembly representatives, who will vote to decide whether the draft bill proceeds to Parliament, the BBI has proposed a Ward Development Fund charged at five percent of county revenues and administered at the ward level.

Similarly, the BBI team has proposed that wards be considered the lowest level of planning for development and budgeting, giving more focus to the electoral units ran by the 1,450 MCAs.

For governors, the BBI team has proposed an increase of allocations from 15 percent to 35 percent of the shared revenue.

The BBI proposes specific timelines within which the Division of Revenue Bill and County Allocation of Revenue Bill are enacted and sanctioned the disbursement of at least half of the allocation to counties in case of a delay.

To avoid delays of audited accounts delaying in the National Assembly and affecting the shareable revenue that goes to the counties, the BBI has proposed audited accounts by the Auditor General be used as the basis for the determination of the allocations.

Revenue sharing

“Where revenue sharing in this Constitution is based on the approval of the most recent audited accounts by the National Assembly and the assembly has not approved the accounts, the most recent audited accounts of revenue submitted by the Auditor General shall be taken as the accounts of revenue for that purpose,” says the BBI report.

The National Assembly is currently auditing the 2017/18 accounts with those of 2016/17, which they have approved, being the basis for sharing revenue between the two levels of government.

And to further sweeten the deal, the BBI team has proposed that governors have a say in the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA), the constitutional agency that is tasked with determining allocation of revenues.

The Council of Governors will now be entitled to nominate two people to the CRA. The Senate’s influence in the CRA has been reduced from five to two. For Parliament, in whose hands the bill will land if passed by more than half of the county assemblies, the BBI team avoided reducing the number of constituencies, a deeply emotive issue for many MPs.

“Implementing multiple member constituencies allows Kenyans to retain constituencies which they are attached to, and a direct link to their representatives,” the committee says in its report.

“It is noteworthy that elected officials with a geographic base retain greater influence than their nominated counterparts,” the BBI team argued, justifying its move to abolish nominated members in both the Senate and the National Assembly.

The report went on: “For the sake of equality of representation, it may be best that every elected official be attached to a specific area, thus the appeal of multi-member constituencies.”

Seven-year tax break

The BBI team has proposed increasing members of the National Assembly from 349 to 360, and the Senate to 94 with one man and one woman elected from each of the 47 counties.

Besides the politicians, the committee has also sweetened the deals for voters, targeting the youth and women.

The report has proposed a seven-year tax break for youth-owned businesses, with fresh graduates allowed a four-year grace period before repayment of their study loans.

The report also called for the recognition of the home office as a place of businesses. This comes on the backdrop of a coronavirus pandemic that saw many people adopt the work-from-home strategy, and which the committee now wants recognised in law.

The BBI report has also proposed the establishment of a Youth Commission to advise national and county governments on the design, implementation and evaluation of pro-youth policies, as well as ensure mainstreaming youth perspectives in planning and decision-making.

For women, the BBI report has retained the 30 per cent provision for all government tenders to them, the youth, and persons with disabilities.

In a huge score for gender parity activists, the report wants governor candidates to pick a person of the opposite gender as their running mates.

It has also addressed the sticky issue of the gender rule — that not more than two-thirds of all elected and appointed positions are from one gender — with the restructuring of Parliament as explained above.

palangat@ke.nationmedia.com

(Download a copy of the BBI Report: BBI REPORT)

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