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Oparanya: Here is why regional economic blocs are dying

By Benard Lusigi | September 24th 2021

Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya. [File, Standard]

Lack of a policy framework is threatening the survival of regional economic blocs, according to Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya.

Mr Oparanya has also accused the national government of failing to pass legislation that would guarantee the integration of these alliances into the country's economic agenda.

"The regional economic blocs have faced many challenges that have made it hard for them to discharge their mandates," he said.

The governor, who is the chairman of the Lake Region Economic Block, spoke at his office on Wednesday when he hosted members of the Kenya Devolution Programme (KDP) led by former Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo.

Oparanya said the central government had refused to support the regional groupings, accusing it of viewing them as competitors instead of development partners.

"The national government fears the regional bodies will rival it if it helps strengthen them. That is why it is not committed to supporting their growth. This is affecting devolution."

Oparanya said donors and development partners were shying away from engaging with the blocs due to lack of policies to allow such partnerships.

But Ms Odhiambo assured the county boss that KDP would engage with the regional alliances and support them in capacity building, planning and budgeting to ensure they effectively discharge their mandate.

Oparanya also called for a review of the law that restricts counties from buying drugs and other pharmaceuticals from the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa). He said Kemsa has failed to meet the needs of counties "because it lacks the capacity to supply drugs and products that the devolved units need."

"It is wrong for counties to be forced to purchase drugs from one supplier. The law should be changed to allow counties to get the drugs from different suppliers to satisfy their needs," he said.

The governor also took issue with the National Treasury, accusing it of failing to disburse funds to counties for the last three months. "Counties have not received development funds for July, August and September. Why would counties be forced to beg for the release of the money?" he said.

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