The Senate has passed a law that aims to cut on the bureaucracy that has seen devolved units struggle to publish Bills, gazette notices and key policy papers.
Under the new provisions passed by last week, each of the 47 devolved units will have their own County Gazette, ending the spectacle of county officials queuing up at the Government Printer in Nairobi to push for publication of county documents in the Kenya Gazette.
“The office of the county printer shall be responsible for the printing and publication of the county and shall publish in the county gazette such documents as are approved by an authorised officer within seven days of such authorization,” reads the County Printers Bill sponsored by Nominated Senator Petronila Were.
Currently, the counties rely on the Government Printer, who has to juggle between publishing national government documents and those of the devolved units.
County government Bills cannot become law unless published in a Gazette seven days after assent, a situation that has seen officials from the grassroots units fall over each other to have them published before the lapse of the deadlines.
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“To get something done at the government printer, you must know somebody. This breeds corruption,” said the sponsor of the Bill who claimed that the Government Printer in Nairobi “operates like a secret organisation”.
“You even wonder why those printers have never crashed due to the amount of work load expected of them. Counties also spend a lot of money putting up advertisements in newspapers. With a county printer, that cost will be mitigated,” she said.
Although two sections of the County Governments Act make reference to a County Gazette, the provision has never been implemented, leading to backlog of unpublished documents at the counties.
The greatest beneficiary of the proposed provisions will be the general public following a directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta that all public entities should publish details of their tenders and awards.
Members of the public can also publish details such as change of names, loss of title deeds and letters of administration.
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However, the possibility of duplication of information by the government printer is a key weakness of the bill. It also does not provide for penalties for county printers who may be tempted to insert mischievous clauses into documents.