A plan by the Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) to establish a regional bank could be delayed by reluctance by some counties to commit funds to the Sh2.8 billion project.
The delay has mainly been attributed to differences between the Executive and county assemblies.
LREB chairman and Kakamega governor Wycliffe Oparanya, said they planned to buy an existing bank and each of the 14 counties was to contribute Sh200 million towards the initiative.
Some county assemblies have agreed to ratify Bills allowing allocation of the money, but others have not.
Oparanya said the plan was to have the bank operational in October this year, but there are fears this may not be possible due to lack of funds from the counties.
“We plan to move faster. We want to buy an existing bank which will be easier as opposed to starting from scratch. We have already advertised for prospective banks to place their bids,” said Oparanya who spoke in Kisumu yesterday.
The Kakamega governor, who was flanked by Kisumu county boss Anyang Nyong’o, revealed that at least two governors have not committed to the project.
A number of counties have endorsed the plan and allocated funds toward the LREB bank idea.
These counties include Kisumu, where the county assembly endorsed the plan and allocated Sh100 million. The county has now paid its contribution in full as the former regime had already paid out Sh100 million towards the initiative.
Homa Bay MCAs however shot down the allocation of Sh100 million in this year’s budget to fund the setting up of the bank. Siaya and Migori have also not committed any funds for the project.
When refusing to endorse the allocation of Sh100 million for the bank, Homa Bay MCAs said there were other pressing issues and deserving development projects. They vowed not to channel millions of shillings towards one project, and asked Oparanya to allow them to pay in installments instead.
MCAs in Kakamega have also asked the governor to go slow on some projects. Sources indicate that some MCAs fear LREB projects could eat into their ward development cash.
But Oparanya downplayed claims of political differences between some governors. “Political differences between governors in the bloc are personal and would not affect operations of LREB which is a non-political entity,” he assured.
“Most governors have committed to contribute towards LREB to ensure its activities go on as planned. Each of the counties has seconded staff to the LREB secretariat,” said Oparanya.
He added: “LREB which has already rolled out its development blue print intended to spur the bloc’s economic growth and cannot be derailed by minor political differences.”
LREB has other ambitious capital-intensive projects in health, ICT, agriculture and in environmental conservation.
Speaking in Kisumu on the sidelines of a meeting with county assembly speakers from LREB region, Oparanya said the bloc is doing well so far.
“Let us not entangle the bloc’s activities in politics for political expediency. Our intention is development. Everything else is secondary,” he said.
Some of the speakers said they will facilitate enactment of necessary legislation to ensure the success of the economic bloc.
The chairman of the Counsel of Speakers in the bloc Morphat Teya, termed LREB as a great idea and called for its support.