Release counties cash, President orders Treasury
Posted Tuesday, August 7 2012 at 19:39
President Mwai Kibaki has directed the Treasury to release funds for the 47 counties before the March general election.
While opening the new debating chamber at Parliament, which was refurbished at a cost of Sh950 million, the President said releasing the cash would guarantee a smooth transition to the devolved system.
“Devolution is critical and it is therefore important that counties are adequately staffed in readiness for the new structures,” said Mr Kibaki.
Finance minister Njeru Githae said the Treasury would release the money to enable counties set up structures for the new administration.
The Treasury set aside Sh160 billion (15 per cent of the total budget) in the current financial year for devolution.
The President said national resources would continue being used to benefit all Kenyans, allaying fears that devolution threatened Kenya’s existence as a unitary state.
“With the discovery of oil and other mineral resources, mechanisms should be put in place to ensure that locals benefit while the national good is put into place for the benefit of future and current generations,” he said.
President Kibaki said the government would facilitate the next phase of Parliament’s modernisation programme.
Parliament has set aside Sh700 million to renovate and expand the old chambers to accommodate the 68 member Senate.
It also plans to spend a similar amount initially on the construction of a 26-storey office complex at a cost of Sh5 billion, to house the expanded parliament.
Parliament is also eyeing the multi-storey Harambee Sacco and Ukulima House buildings for acquisition.
National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende said the chamber, which was constructed in 1963 and commissioned in 1965 to accommodate 158 MPs, was refurbished using locally sourced materials and personnel except for electronic equipment.
Marende defended the Sh220, 000 cost for each of the 350 seats, saying it cost Sh77 million or 54 per cent of the budgeted Sh167 million.
The seats were designed and delivered by Kenya Prisons.
Mr Marende said the Chamber has inbuilt radio and TV broadcasting studios transmitting live feeds straight from the House.