Raila: State wants to starve devolution by depriving county govts of funds

Raila Odinga

Azimio leader Raila Odinga addresses journalists at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation in Nairobi on May 16. He says the Kenya Kwanza administration is plotting to starve devolution by depriving county governments of funds.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya leader Raila Odinga has alleged a deliberate plot by the Kenya Kwanza administration to starve devolution by depriving county governments of funds.

This, even as Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua on Monday announced that Treasury will release Sh33.3 billion April allocation to counties by Friday and the May disbursement of Sh31.4 billion to be cleared on June 19.

Counties are owed Sh94 billion for April, May and June and Mr Odinga now sees this as a deliberate attempt to deny them funds and take over their roles by the national government.

“This government is trying to kill devolution because if they are saying that they inherited empty coffers, you want to ask yourself, up to August last year, there were never any delays and the regime of Uhuru Kenyatta was collecting taxes from the people of Kenya,” Mr Odinga said.

Speaking at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation, the ODM leader said that the former regime was able to remit funds to counties and serve other sectors without any financial hitch.

“What has happened since that time that we now have this serious problem? I think there is a deliberate effort to try to take over some of the functions being done by county governments,” said Mr Odinga.

“This regime is not up to what Kenyans expect and we are going to tell Kenyans what to do,” he said.

DP Gachagua while speaking on Monday after chairing the 20th Intergovernmental Budget Economic Council (IBEC) meeting at his Karen residence, admitted that the Treasury was undergoing financial strain but expressed confidence that the allocations will be met.

"We have explained to the governors the strains that the Treasury is undergoing in terms of the exchequer and they have understood us," he said.

Yesterday, Azimio co-principal Eugene Wamalwa, who served as a Devolution Cabinet Secretary in the previous regime said that from the onset, President Ruto has been against devolution. He cited Dr Ruto’s opposition to the 2010 Constitution that entrenched devolution as well as his resistance to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) which sought to increase funding to the devolved units from 15 per cent to 35 per cent.

“I don’t believe the current administration is pro-devolution. As you know, those in power now opposed the Constitution of Kenya 2010 and even after we wanted to increase funding of the counties through BBI from 15-35 per cent, the team opposed it,” Mr Wamalwa told Nation.Africa.

He went on: “As soon as they were sworn in, the first thing they did was to scrap the Ministry of Devolution. They then reduced it from a Ministry to a State Department as an afterthought because in the original list of more than 50 State departments and PSs, devolution was not there but only added after an uproar when governors questioned.”

But Council of Governors chairperson Anne Waiguru, the pioneer Devolution Cabinet Secretary, insisted that the Ministry was only vital at the onset of devolution.

“The need was for a cabinet minister who oversees intergovernmental relations. This is such a critical issue that it must always have cabinet ownership and now it’s owned by an even higher office, that is the Deputy President,” said Ms Waiguru.

But Mr Wamalwa pointed out that: “Clearly this regime is not pro-devolution, they have also, just like the previous Kanu regime which killed devolution at independence, starved the regions of financial resources, the same thing this regime is doing to the counties.”

He pointed out that when counties are starved of cash, it affects their implementation of County Integrated Development Plans.

“So you find that the county governments are now subjected to overdrafts by banks with very high-interest rates leaving very little funds.”

“Kenya Kwanza government is against devolution and is keen on killing devolution just as it was killed at independence by the Kanu regime unless Kenyans remain vigilant and fight for devolution,” added Mr Wamalwa.