It is often gratifying to blame the monster called Central Government for every little misfortune that befalls our locality. It is common to hear people say, “Nairobi is stifling development of our area because we are not from the president’s tribe.” Some of those making such claims are MPs who sit in Nairobi and are part of the central government.
A close look at allocation of funds will show that Local Government and constituencies get a piece of the pie. This piece often ends up being privatized. Our local leaders will then point fingers to Nairobi when asked why services are not being rendered.
Districts, Local Authorities (LA), and constituencies receive money directly from the central government. The LAs receive budgetary support from the central government in form of Local Authorities Transfer Funds (LATF). 5% of the total income tax collected by the central government is allocated in this fund. 7% of this is shared equally among 175 Local Authorities while the remainder is distributed in consideration of population and other economic indicators. The central government and Kenya Local Government Reform Program’s secretariat –where Local Authorities have representatives- come up with the formula of distribution. More often than not, LAs do not account for these funds.
In addition, Local Authorities collect local taxes, duty for trading permits, parking fees, and collect levies for delivery of services. It is shocking to note that most LAs owe their employees several months of worth of salaries in arrears.
Citizens -through a mandate given by Local Service Delivery Action Plan (LASDAP)- are supposed to question how their moneys are being spent. They are supposed to participate in planning for development projects and evaluating if they met their expectations. We are also given a constitutional mandate to elect and fire councilors should we feel that we are being taxed without fair representation. It is a shame that we keep on electing empty heads as our councilors. Most of these councilors –if not all- don’t know what their duty is. That tells you a lot about the electorate.
There also exists a Road Maintenance Levy Fund (RMLF). 16% of this fund goes to districts to maintain rural roads. MPs, Councilors and other opinion leaders sit in committees that share these funds among all constituencies in respective districts. So in any given year, every constituency gets a part of the RMLF. The monies end up in people’s pockets.
Constituencies receive money from the Constituency Development Fund (CDF). The fund shares 2.5% of our ordinary national revenue among 210 constituencies. This financial year, sh 5 billion was allocated to the fund. The CDF is intended to go into the development of capital projects in respective constituencies. More often than not, MPs’ cronies and their spouses manage the fund. A majority of MPs cannot account for this fund.
Tea farmers are surcharged a 1% Tea Cess. According to the Kenya Tea Board statistics, Kenya exported tea worth US $567.42 million in 2005. 1% of that amount went into the Tea Cess. 80% of the tea cess goes into road building and maintenance. The fund is distributed to every tea factory. It is a shame that most of the money if not all ends up in people’s pockets.
In my home (Mokomoni in N. Mogirango/Borabu Constituency) we have a number of tea factories; we receive the CDF, LATF, and RMLF. One would expect to the constituency to have average roads but this is not the case. The Nyaramba-Mokomoni road –which borders the Sang’anyi Tea Factory and a stone throw away from the area MP’s shop and residence- is a total mess. Right outside Sang’anyi factory there are deep gullies in the road from years of soil erosion. Even the huge trucks –popularly known as Toriti- that ferry tea find it rough navigating through these canyons. So what went wrong?
We pride ourselves as democratic citizens in a democratic country. What we have is a “once-in-five-years-democracy” where were trade our votes for money or we vote along tribal lines. Our local leaders have successfully created a straw man called central government to whom they attribute all our tribulations. This way they have succeeded in looting with impunity.