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Governors want tendering law made less bureaucratic

By ROSELYNE OBALA | December 6th 2013


Nairobi: Governors have called for urgent amendments to the Public Finance Management Act to reduce bureaucracy encountered in the tendering processes.

They warned that the law in its current form favours established companies while denying start-up businesses a chance at county level.

The governors argued that this goes against the letter and spirit of devolution that seeks to ensure locals are financially empowered.

They also argued that the amendments would ensure that the national government’s directive that 30 per cent of contracts should be reserved for the youth and women is implemented.

Chairman of the Finance and Economic Affairs Committee of the Council of Governors, Ahmed Abdullahi Mohammad, expressed reservations, saying the law restricts county governments from awarding local contracts without meeting the set national regulations.

“The bureaucracy involved will be minimised if the law is amended to ease the mechanisms required to meet the threshold to win a contract,” he said.

He absolved the governors of any blame that counties were yet to spend the monies allocated to them.

“The national government should not be quick to judge counties over their expenditure. We must adhere to the financial management law or be accused of misuse of funds,” he said.

He added: “We are exercising caution so that we are not accused of mismanaging public funds.”

On Tuesday, while appearing before the National Assembly Budget and Appropriation Committee, Cabinet Secretary for Finance Henry Rotich said counties were yet to spend Sh34 billion.

Mr Rotich informed the Mutama Musyimi-led committee that the money was still with Treasury.

Mohammad however, differs with Rotich, explaining that it is not that they have failed to spend the money but that governors are adhering to the law.

Mohammad, who is also the Wajir governor, took issue with the law, which he said emphasises more the administrative aspect of finances than value for money.

“The national tendering process should not be the benchmark to award the contracts. Basic needs like water and roads can be contracted locally,” he stressed.

The governor argued that legislators should fast track the amendment process to ensure that counties can empower people at the grassroots as envisaged in the Constitution.

Mohammad, who spoke to The Standard by telephone, raised concerns that the youth and women will require capacity building to be able to qualify for the tenders.

“Locals are still not enlightened on electronic transfer and internal pay and requirements. Considering locals will not weaken controls,” he affirmed.

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