BY FWAMBA NC FWAMBA
Just before shouting disrespectfully at the president in the name of playing to the gallery,Gatundu South MP Hon Moses Kuria and his Bahati counterpart Hon Onesmus Kimani Ngunjiri should re-look at our long journey towards equity and equal distribution of resources,fair allocation of revenue and the gains the country has made since. The two members of parliament and their friends forget that Kenya is no longer run by individual whims of the head of state but by the principles of constitutionalism and law.
As legislators who have served in both the 12th and 13th parliament, they are well placed enough to know that under our current dispensation, there are clear guidelines enacted through legislation which determine revenue allocation and distribution. It must be appreciated that it is during the reign of President Uhuru Kenyatta that Kenya has for the first time established a formula that puts in place fair mechanisms for national development.
Since gaining independence from her colonizers in 1963, Kenya has come a long way as far as resource allocation and distribution is concerned.
As a young nation with minimal resources,the country embarked on a development plan that focused on maximizing use of high potential areas and establishment of industries as a way of sparking the country’s economic growth. This initiative was realized through the Sessional Paper no.10 of 1965(African Socialism and its application to planning in Kenya) .This sessional paper that was credited to Tom Mboya during his tenure as Minister for Economic Planning, provided a guideline for economic development and strategic locations of various industries that continue supporting a section of Kenyan populace to date.
Although well intended, the aspirations of Sessional Paper no.10 of 1965 effectively shut out some parts of the country from the development grid leading to long term marginalization of the regions in question.
Due to politics, the objective and systematic allocation and distribution of resources contemplated in the sessional paper no 10 was with time abandoned at the expense of development based on ethnic biases and political persuasions. The political patronage based development led to the collapse of some economic development establishments that were in politically incorrect regions. Among others, one of the factories that suffered this fate was the Kisumu Cotton Mills (KICOMI) factory.
During the reign of Kenya’s 2nd President Moi , development was strictly pegged on political loyalty. Government appointments were distributed in accordance to regional allegiance to the head of state. This kind of skewed development and allocation of resources in accordance to political loyalty further polarized the country along ethnic lines.
The Constituency Development Fund (CDF) Act, 2003 introduced by then Ol Kalao MP Muriuki Karue was a significant attempt to fair allocation and distribution of resources across the country. Efforts during the regime of our 3rdPresident Mwai Kibaki to entrench fair distribution of resources and address the issue of marginalization were also realized through the establishment of the Ministry of Special Programs and the Ministry of Northern Kenya that attempted to address the plight of the former Northern Frontier region’s development that had lagged behind as a result of earlier policies that were contained in the sessional paper number 10 of 1965.
The promulgation of the 2010 constitution was the most significant step that put to an end biased distribution and allocation of revenue. This was addressed through institutional frameworks whose authority is directly derived from the constitution of Kenya 2010.
The constitution of Kenya 2010 in general sought to ensure that Kenyans receive equal treatment and access services equitably regardless of their geographical and ethnic backgrounds or their political persuasions. It should also be known that this is the same reason as to why we ensured the devolved governments are in place. The devolved governments intended to bring services closer to the people. Since his election in 2013, the President has signed many bills into law that support development at the grassroots.
Article 215 of the constitution of Kenya establishes the Commission on Revenue Allocation as one of the independent Commissions in Kenya while article 216 highlights the functions of the commission. Among other responsibilities, the CRA is mandated to provide an objective and independent framework for equitable sharing of revenue raised by the national government.
It is also worth noting that parliament plays the most central role in the national budget making process and thus members of parliament play a central role in deciding what goes where and for what purpose in terms of budgetary planning. Under the current dispensation, no mega project can be implemented without the input of parliament; both the senate and the national assembly.
On 21st June, 2016, the National Assembly pursuant to article 217 of the constitution established the basis of revenue sharing using the following parameters: population(45%),Equal share(26%),Poverty(18%),land area(8%)Fiscal Effort(2%),Development factor(1%) .So far, these parameters have been used as the criteria for revenue sharing among the counties for financial years2016/2018, 2017/18 and 2018/19.
The government through sessional paper number 8 of 2012 on National Policy for the Sustainable Development of Northern Kenya and other Arid Lands ‘Releasing Our Full Potential’ (also referred to as the ASAL policy) addressed policy challenges that were particular to northern Kenya and other arid and semi-arid areas. This legislation established deliberate mechanisms to bridge the developmental gap that had left most of the arid and semi-arid areas marginalized.
The National Government CDF Act 2015 which came into effect on 19th February 2016 to replace CDF Act 2013, under direct supervision by members of parliament is another opportunity for all Kenyans to benefit from equitable development opportunities and has a well-established legal framework for disbursement. The fund, according to the established law supports national government projects at constituency levels.
The MPs should remember that Kenya is one country under one president whose mandate carries jurisdiction over the over 45 million Kenyans.While a Member of Parliament oversees constituency based programs,governors are the agents of development at county levelsres. As people’s representatives, it’s the duty of members of parliament to use correct channels;particularly parliament to ensure their respective areas of representation are developed. This can only be achieved through sober engagements and not public populist spats.
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s legacy is about doing the right thing. His Big Four development agenda and the building bridges initiative that began with the March 9th 2018 handshake with his archrival Raila Odinga is the path to a lasting legacy and he deserves support from every Kenyan of goodwill.
The writer is an Advisor to the Cabinet Secretary for devolution and ASALs Hon Eugene Wamalwa