ISIOLO: Marginalised counties will get an additional Sh6 billion when the national government actualises the long delayed Equilisation Fund.
President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday said the money will soon be factored into the Supplementary Budget.
“The Bill will soon be tabled in Parliament, but it will only be for development and no county will be allowed to utilise it for recurrent functions,” said Uhuru.
The Equalisation Fund was created by the 2010 Constitution to improve services in the most marginalised parts of the country. It should have been operationalised in 2013 but required a policy directive from the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) on marginalised areas, which was provided in February 2013.
The Bill has never reached Parliament.
The fund was to commence six years ago after the Constitution pegged it at a minimum of 0.5 per cent of the last audited government revenue.
Speaking at the Pastoralist Leadership Summit at Simba Lodge, Buffallo Springs Natural Reserve in Isiolo County, the President said the Sh6 billion allocated to the fund this financial year amounts to 0.8 per cent of the last audited revenues approved by the National Assembly – a notable improvement on the minimum constitutional requirement of 0.5 per cent.
Uhuru urged the 12 benefiting counties to use the funds well and create a development footprint in their areas.
Present at the summit were 70 MPs, five governors, seven senators, 14 County Assembly speakers and a host of MCAs.The leaders were led by Mandera Senator Billow Kerrow, Pastoralists Parliamentary Group Secretary General Chachu Ganya (North Horr) and Patron Ekwe Ethuro (Senate Speaker).
The President was accompanied by Deputy President William Ruto, Cabinet Secretaries Joseph Nkaissery (Interior), Amina Mohammed (Foreign) Mwangi Kiunjuri (Devolution), Cleopa Mailu (Health) and Willy Bett (Agriculture).
President Kenyatta also promised that the government would establish a Livestock Marketing Board to help herders access markets for their produce.
He said the Jubilee government had given priority to development of the marginalised north more than any other government since independence, and urged residents to accept that the area is no longer treated as a non-priority region.
“I urge you all to accept that marginalisation is a thing of the past and use the resources at your disposal to help your people catch up with the rest of Kenya,” he said. “Otherwise, you will be marginalised for the rest of your life.”
He said 6,000 new police officers had been sent to the region and 400 additional vehicles given to the administration and regular police command in the area.
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The President said the route to be taken by the Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) corridor was yet to be decided due to delicate discussions with neighbouring states.
He warned those demanding to know the route not to be driven by personal interests that would enable them selfishly speculate on land that the government would require for the project.
“If your only interest is to speculate by offering land at the highest price, I am sorry to tell you that the speed of delivering the project may be delayed by your greed,” he said.
Uhuru challenged local leaders to encourage people to embrace peaceful existence and shun violence for development to take root.
He also challenged the leaders to address early child marriages and pregnancies, which he said were pulling back gains in the national girl enrollment rates.
The President urged the conference to also address poor maternal health care in Wajir, Garrissa and Mandera that had contributed to high infant and maternal mortality rates in the region.
“We cannot allow simple cultural practices to interfere with the health of our children and their mothers,” he said.
The 12 counties have received a total of Sh182 billion in devolved funds and a further Sh17 billion in Constituency Development Fund since 2013.