Kenya’s National government has committed to complete the county assets valuation exercise and transfer the assets by June 30th 2023.
State Department for Devolution Principal Secretary (PS) Teresia Mbaika said that the transfer of assets to county governments is a constitutional imperative intended to equip county governments with resources necessary to enable them perform their functions.
Speaking on Thursday in Nairobi during the launch of the National Steering Committee on County Assets Valuation and Transfer, Mbaika explained that the assets contemplated for transfer include those inherited from the defunct local authorities and assets of the national government on devolved functions.
“The Constitution and the Transition to Devolved Governments Act intended that the identified assets would be transferred during the “transition period” interpreted to be three years after the 2013 General Elections. The process is yet to be concluded almost 10 years after the prescribed time,” she explained.
The PS highlighted that the delay in executing legal transfers in favour of county governments poses significant risk of losing unregistered moveable assets.
“Failure to transfer the assets compromises the ability and capacity of the recipient county governments to utilize the assets as a means and instrument of service delivery. This delay prompted the Intergovernmental Budget Economic Council (IBEC) to intervene and issue directives to the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning to carry out valuation of the assets both for purposes of establishing their book value and transfer to respective county governments,” said Mbaika.
To fast-track the process, the PS said that her state department published gazette notice number 3839 on 24th March, 2023 that has some significant difference from the previous legal framework.
“This framework establishes a four-tier structure each with specific functions. At the apex is the National Steering Committee Comprising Principal Secretaries of all State Departments with devolved functions. The second organ is the Intergovernmental Relations Technical Committee which among other functions is responsible for monitoring and evaluating the progress of the exercise,” she said.
Mbaika highlighted that the third layer is the National Technical Coordination Committee comprising technical membership from Departments with devolved functions.
“The Intergovernmental County Committee is the fourth tier and operates at the County level which is chaired by the respective County Secretaries and County Commissioner and this is the engine that will coordinate the actual assets valuation and the same is heavy in representation by valuers from the Ministry of Lands,” said Mbaika.
The PS said that this committee is expected to submit its final valuation reports to the National Technical Committee which in turn shall submit to the Intergovernmental Relations Technical Committee (IGRTC) and finally to the Steering Committee.
“The Steering Committee shall then transmit to IBEC for approval and adoption. The transfer instruments shall thereafter be forwarded to the relevant Government Agency to effect the transfer,” said Mbaika.
The PS expressed hope that with these interventions and the support from partners, her department is certain of beating the June 30th deadline to complete inspection and valuation of the assets.
Council of Governors (CoG) chairperson Anne Waiguru said that it is discouraging that a decade down the line, the residual functions of the defunct transition authority still remain outstanding a move which has not only hindered optimal implementation of the devolved functions by the county governments but has also negated the constitutional principle that resources must follow functions.
In a speech read on her behalf by CoG Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mary Mwiti, Waiguru commended the IGRTC for initiating the process in March last year where valuers from the ministry of lands undertook preliminary inspection and data capture of assets in 25 counties representing a 45 per cent completion rate as of April 2023.
National Land Commission (NLC) Chairperson Gershom Otachi said that there is need for policy guidelines on issues concerning veterinary farms, sharing of assets developed on the same parcel of land which cannot be easily divided due to size like the ECD’s and primary schools, and sharing of assets which belong to both levels of government among others.
IGRTC Chairperson Kithinji Kiragu said that he is concerned over the transfer of functions to county governments which have not yet taken place and other gaps in terms of consolidating devolution.
“Fortunately we are at a moment where we can transfer the functions because the president has given the necessary political commitment and support for us to consolidate and deepen devolution,” said Kiragu.