OPENING REMARKS BY H.E WILLIAM RUTO, DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA DURING THE SECOND THEMATIC DEVELOPMENT PARTNERSHIP FORUM ON DEVOLUTION, 10TH FEBRUARY 2015
Your Excellencies, High Commissioners and Ambassadors
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. I am pleased to be with you this morning for the seventh thematic Development Partnership Forum (DPF) meeting, which will be reviewing the status of Devolution in Kenya. At the earliest, let me commend our Development Partners who have continued to work with us towards the attainment of our development agenda as outlined in our Vision 2030. I wish also to thank the Council of Governors and ministries as key stakeholders in this area.
2. It is a privilege to chair this second thematic Development Partners Forum on Devolution. The thematic DPFs allow the Government and Development Partners to have more meaningful dialogue on mutually agreed issues, which consequently helps us flag key issues for implementation within realistic timelines. The last thematic forum on ‘Ease of Doing Business was held on 29th September 2014. We also have an upcoming thematic forum on “Youth and Development”.
3. The objective of today’s meeting is to discuss the status of devolution and appreciate how far we have come since this important developmental strategy was adopted in 2010.
Two years into the proper implementation of devolution, I am proud to note that significant progress has been made. By dint of comprehensive negotiation within the framework of the Division of Revenue process, Counties accessed Ksh Sh210 billion to underwrite service delivery with regard to the functions devolved to counties under the Fourth Schedule of the constitution in FY 2012/13.
This equitable share rose to Ksh 226 billion in FY 2013/14 and is projected to increase by another Ksh 20 billion this financial year. The import of these allocations is that the Government has exceeded the minimum requirements of article 203(2) of the Constitution, which requires that not less than 15% of national revenue shall be allocated to county governments. The allocation of between 34% and 40% of national revenue to counties compares quite favourably with other countries in the region, which have devolved fiscal responsibility.
I am also proud that borne of our deep commitment to the success of this enterprise we have, in the space of two years, succeeded in transferring most of the functions to County governments under the Constitution including agriculture, healthcare and rural roads.
Devolution involves a wide range of complex developmental issues and it would be inapposite to suggest that we have done everything we set out to do. Much still calls for our joint attention if devolution’s gains are to take root.
4. To fully realize the benefits of devolution a number of interventions are required to address the emerging challenges. First, we urge County Governments to comply with the Public Finance Management Act, 2012 and other relevant laws to avoid unnecessary delays in release of funds that could hamper smooth delivery of services to the public.
Secondly, every county needs to ensure that their revenue projections are realistic; this will help them realize budget credibility and higher budget execution rates. Thirdly, it is critical to have improved transparency and accountability and full automation of revenue collection and management.
5. Effective and efficient service delivery demands efficient human resource. The Capacity of the staff deployed in the Civil Service across counties in terms of numbers and skills impacts directly on efficient public service delivery.
A comprehensive and harmonized capacity building framework is therefore important. The National Government continues to facilitate and accelerate capacity building for County Governments to address skills and competence gaps. The Ministry of Devolution and Planning has led the Capacity Assessment and Rationalization Programme for the Public Service and as you are aware the biometric registration of National and County Governments staff is still ongoing. We expect that the outcome will help place relevant officers with relevant skills where they are required so that we achieve maximum results.
6. Lastly, the Cabinet approved the Kenya External Resources Policy in December last year. This policy provides the legal, organizational, operational and accountability framework to guide the sourcing and management of external resources for National, County Governments and Urban Areas and Cities. Don’t be afraid, the external resources policy is a living document, which we will amend for the purposes of improvement as demanded by the context of the times. I urge County Governments, Development Partners and all key stakeholders to apply the Kenya External Resources Policy as guide in their external resource mobilization and management.
Ladies and Gentlemen
7. Devolution, you will all concur, is not a one off event but a process. We understand that the transition from the central government to county governments is not without challenges. We, however, hold the firm view that we have the capacity, if we work together, to overcome any issue, challenge or obstacle and deliver the promise of devolution to our people.
We are all stewards of a powerful idea and an important moment in history. Devolution is not impractical or impossible so let us be candid and open in our discussions and above all let us proffer practical solutions to the challenges we face.
I have been informed that three-key areas were isolated for discussion and during the Pre-Development Partnership Forum (Pre-DPF), which took place last week on 5th February 2014 at the KICC, some key recommendations were made. We expect to review the recommendations and endorse them for implementation.
8. With those few remarks, it is now my pleasure to declare this forum officially open.