Tuesday, 06 April 2021 12:50

THE FIRST COUNCIL OF GOVERNORS MEETING

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The new leadership team under H.E Martin Wambora convened its first Council Meeting since their election on 29th January 2021. Under Section 20 of the Intergovernmental Relations Act, the Council of Governors is mandated to among other things focus on discussing matters of common interest among County Governments. During the first meeting the Council discussed the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine, the challenge of non-release of counties’ equitable share which is now overdue by three months (no county government has received equitable share for January, February and March), failure by the National Treasury to remit funds already approved and provided for in the County Allocation of Revenue Act, 2019 and the proposed new program of Kenya Informal Settlements Improvement Project II, among others.
The arrival of the much anticipated COVID-19 vaccine in the country elicited mixed reactions from Kenyans. For some, it was a glimmer of hope while for others, the vaccine was shrouded in controversy and could not be trusted. Concerns were raised on the counties’ level of preparedness to administer the jab bearing in mind that the National Government had already begun the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout within the counties. At the end of the meeting it was resolved that the National Treasury needs to release the three months equitable share, that the Council shall engage in a structured resource mobilization that ensures all the 47 counties are covered, and that there is need for prompt training and capacity building for healthcare workers.
Health Cabinet Secretary Hon. Mutahi Kagwe, who attended the Council meeting as an invited guest and later jointly with the COG Chair, H.E Martin Wambora addressed the media, stated that healthcare systems at the counties were close to being overrun with ICU beds in Nairobi County already at full capacity. The Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Council of Governors promised to review the pre-existing protocols to contain the current wave of COVID-19. The Council through its chairman H.E Wambora, urged all Kenyans to exercise extra caution as a lapse in judgement could be disastrous. Further, the Chairman called upon the president to impose a 30-day ban on all political gatherings, noting that such meetings have now become the ‘super-spreaders’ of COVID-19. “Heightened political activity, if left unchecked, could burden the already struggling health care system,” he noted.
The meeting also discussed the timely release of counties’ equitable share as it is crucial to the smooth running of county operations. Governors voiced their discontentment with the National Treasury attributing the disruptions in service delivery at the counties to debts owed by the Exchequer dating back to as far as November 2020. The Council set up an adhoc committee of H.E Nderitu Muriithi chairman of the Finance Committee, H.E Mwangi wa Iria, H.E Alex Tolgos whip, H.E Anne Waiguru chairperson of Gender Committee and H.E Kahiga Mutahi chairman of Education Committee resolved to engage the National Treasury to establish the best way to resolve the cash crunch. The meeting also discussed the disbursement of funds for the Kenya Urban Support Programme and the Kenya Devolution Support Programme. These programmes are instrumental in counties’ development and strengthening of the institutional frameworks and thus a top priority.
At the joint press conference jointly with the CS Hon Mutahi Kagwe, the chairman of the council noted that in the wake of the third wave of COVID-19 infections in the country, all Kenyans have to take personal responsibility and exercise vigilance in observing the COVID-19 protocols and reiterated the County Governments’ commitment to flattening the curve and championing for the cause of devolution.

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