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Ruto dismisses Raila push for referendum

George Kebaso @Morarak

Deputy President William Ruto yesterday opposed a proposal by Opposition leader Raila Odinga to review devolution structure to create a three-tier system of governance.

He said the current system only requires enhanced accountability and not an overhaul to create another layer of administration. On Wednesday, Raila told delegates attending the 5th Annual Devolution Conference at Kakamega High School that the three-tier system will cure inability by counties to finance their programmes and address inefficiencies.

He suggested creation of 14 strong economic regions besides the 47 devolved units. Already, 14 counties from the Lake Region have formed an Economic Bloc (LREB) currently in the process of establishing a regional bank.

The counties agreed to inject Sh2.8 billion, about Sh200 million each, towards the formation of the bank in March. About five other blocs are in the offing and have been recognised by the Council of Governors.

They include, North Rift Economic Bloc (NOREB), South Eastern Kenya Economic Bloc (SEKEB), Frontier Counties Development Council (FCDC), Mt Kenya and Aberdare and Coast region’s Jumuia ya Kaunti za Pwani.

Most of the 47 counties, Raila said on Wednesday, are uneconomical entities. But Ruto said the motive behind the proposal was to give power to certain people at the top as opposed to supporting counties.

“If there is going to be a suggestion on arranging or rearranging of devolution, it cannot be creating another layer of government,” he said. He said there is no need of changing the law at this moment when the country is focused more on implementing President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ‘Big Four’.

“This will be taking counties to the walls,” he said describing Raila’s plan an addition of a new level of bureaucracy in the delivery of service in the devolved units.

“This is going to be devolution upwards rather than downwards. That is where devolution needs to go and that is a discussion that we can have and we don’t have to change the Constitution to achieve that,” he said.

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