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Governors from the 47 counties clashed with the central government over their budget, bringing to a premature halt a meeting called by the Transitional Authority in Naivasha on Tuesday.
The governors accused the central government of plotting to derail devolution by dictating how they should spend the Sh9.8 billion set aside for counties in the current financial year.
At the meeting â€” also attended by the Commission on Revenue Allocation and the Commission on the Implementation of the Constitution â€” the newly-elected county bosses said the central government is not committed to implementing the Constitution.
At issue was the fact that the Treasury had sent an itemised budget to counties, meaning, the devolved governments have no say over the expenditure.
â€œWe noted that the Treasury is acting outside the law, it is acting with impunity, it is disregarding what Parliament passed in December and has gone ahead to prepare budgets for the counties,â€ said Bomet governor Isaac Ruto.
Belittle county rule
â€œThey have gone ahead to continue to belittle these county governments.â€
The 10th Parliament had in its last days pushed Finance Minister Njeru Githae to allocate Sh9.8 billion to counties for use in the three months before the next financial year.
The allocation was to be used to get the governors working ahead of the next Budget.
The complaint that the Treasury had gone ahead to dictate how the money should be used brought the first real working day of the five-day conference to a halt soon after President Kibaki had opened it and left.
Mr Kinuthia Wamwangi, who heads the Transitional Authority, said: â€œTreasury micromanaged the budgetâ€ He said the concerns raised by the governors in a stormy meeting were legitimate and needed to be addressed.
Ms Fatuma Abdulkadir, the vice-chairperson of the CRA, said the Treasury needs to send the money in a lump sum. â€œThe fastest way to kill devolved government is to kill funding. The Treasury has to reverse the itemised budget,â€ she said.
Earlier, the President had incensed the governors by repeatedly saying that Kenya is a unitary state. He said despite the devolution of political power to counties, which will also be given a significant chunk of the national resources, Kenya remains a unitary state.
â€œThat is the Constitution of the Republic of Kenya and it can be said 10 times because some people have gotten it wrong in their heads and what they are looking for is something that is not what is written in this Constitution of Kenyaâ€¦ I know they will create a dispute and we shall have to answer to those,â€ he said.
CIC chairman Charles Nyachae and commission member Peter Wanyande said the Presidentâ€™s sentiment was wrong.
â€œThe framers of the Constitution, had they intended, would have said that Kenya is a unitary state,â€ Mr Nyachae said.
Prof Wanyande said: â€œNowhere in the Constitution does it say that Kenya is a unitary state. It is important for Kenyans and leaders to know this.â€
The CIC would write two advisory opinions to the government on what is required from each level of government and tell the Treasury to give counties the cash without itemising its spending, Mr Nyachae said.
The government should realise that according to Article Six of the Constitution, there needs to be mutual respect, cooperation and consultation, he said. The law â€œis very clear on what the respective roles are; how they play out in practiceâ€¦â€, he said.