Friday, January 17, 2014

COUNTY GOVERNMENTS ADD NO VALUE AND SHOULD BE DOWNSIZED . xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx The essence of devolution is not only to bring services closer to the people , but to improve their socio-economic status in a conducive and adaptable political environment unique to each county . Realization of devolution as envisaged will come at a heavy cost which translates into heavier taxation at a time when the purchasing power of the ordinary citizen has been seriously eroded by a non performing economy . Governors are determined to raise revenue within their respective counties through introduction of numerous , often punitive taxes , a move that has been met with hostile resistance , even serious riots in some counties . It is preposterous to expect citizens to pay the numerous hefty taxes being imposed at a time when the cost of living , medicare and education are a nightmare most people are hoping to wake up from . In kakamega county , for instance , the governor , while clearly breaching articles 201 and 209 of the constitution , hopes to raise taxes from the dead , from anybody rearing chicken , breeds cattle and mama mboga whose daily sales average twohundred shillings out of which she must part with one hundred shillings to enrich the county coffers . How then do we hope to encourage small businesses and tackle poverty while fighting unemployment ? Kakamega county ranks among the poorest in the country with no industries to offer employment . I have seen families bury their dead kin in offcuts because a coffin costing 2000/= is a luxury they can only dream of . How then do they raise 5000/= to get a burial permit ? If residents have to pay 20/= for every chicken reared , 300/= for every pig and 500/= for every head of cattle one has , is it worthy starting projects involving the same considering the project costs ? The organisational structure of a devolved system will be its undoing since many of the institutions created are superfluous . Having governors , senators , members of parliament , county representatives , and ministers at the county level , all drawing huge salaries besides other perks is an unnecessary drain on public finances that leaves little or nothing for service provision and betterment . A year down the line , counties are yet to be felt except for the war of words between senators , governors and the central government over who should do what and who is superior . All this beauraucracy , the infighting and haphazard manner in which counties are ran begs the question , are they viable as constituted today and how effective are they ? Has it been noticed that counties entrench tribalism and nepotism ? Is the wage bill , which includes millions spent on gallivanting trips in the guise of seeking investors , and the confusion worth the bother ? Government operations from a centralised command with clear cut duties as it was before the adaptation of the new constitution , apart from laxity , appeared more orderly and purposeful . Cutting down on expenditure should be any prudent governments priority . This can be achieved through scrapping some of the institutions and reduction in counties from 47 to only 8 (the original provinces). Taxes raised by the central government effectively ran the country . If that money is being shared equitably among counties , if Funds from which governors can draw money for use are established , what justification do they have for their obsession with the introduction of taxes that easily pass as illegal ? Taxation for services rendered is acceptable but county governments wish to reap where they did not sow .

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