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Powerful President, Prime Minister Post And Reduced Parliamentary Budget: BBI Report At Glance

President Kenyatta receiving the BBI Report at State House

By Team Whispers

President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM party leader Raila Odinga on Tuesday received the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report at State House, Nairobi presented by the task force chairman Yusuf Haji.

In the proposal, the Presidential post stands out as the most powerful under an election hence remains the head of state and government.

The position of the prime minister will be returned if the proposals are implemented in full, who will be appointed by the President and is to undergo approval by parliament.

The Prime Minister is also expected to be an elected member of parliament who is to be the leader of the largest party or coalition in the country.

The post of the Vice president remains unaltered, and still serves as the principal assistant of the president, and his running mate.

“The Prime Minister shall be the Leader of Government Business in the National Assembly. On the President’s tasking, the Prime Minister will chair Cabinet sub-committees,” reads the report.

The Prime Minister post is in charge of supervision and execution of day to day affairs of the government.

The Role of the Prime Minister

The Prime Minister shall have supervision and execution of the day-to-day functions and affairs of the Government. The Prime Minister shall be the Leader of Government Business in the National Assembly.

On the President’s tasking, the Prime Minister will chair Cabinet sub-committees. In the exercise of his authority, the Prime Minister shall perform or cause to be performed any matter or matters which the President directs to be done.

The Prime Minister will continue to earn his or her salary as a Member of Parliament with no additional salary for the prime ministerial role.

The Permanent/Principal Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister will chair the Technical Implementation Committee of Principal/Permanent Secretaries. To avoid the politicisation of the Public Service, the Permanent or Principal Secretaries will not be subject to Parliamentary approval. Their accountability will be strictly administrative and technical.

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The report also proposes the re-naming of Cabinet Secretaries to Cabinet Ministers–some of who will be appointed from among Members of Parliament.

“Within a set number of days following the summoning of Parliament after an election, the President shall appoint as Prime Minister, an elected Member of the National Assembly from a political party having a majority of Members in the National Assembly or, if no political party has a majority, one who appears to have the support of a majority of MPs,” the report seen by Whispers

Leader of the Official Opposition

The runner-up of the Presidential election, the report states, becomes an ex-officio Member of Parliament and the Leader of the Official Opposition if his or her party is not represented in the Government, or of a coalition of Parliamentary parties not represented in the Government.

A mixed cabinet

The cabinet is a crucial part of the Executive arm of Government. There is discontent with the current system, judging from what Kenyans told the Taskforce. The President will appoint Cabinet Ministers after consultation with the Prime Minister. The Ministers shall be responsible for the offices that the President establishes in line with the Constitution.

The Cabinet shall be drawn from both parliamentarians and technocrats with the latter being made ex-officio Members of Parliament upon successful Parliamentary approval.

The Taskforce is also recommending that the Cabinet Secretary be renamed Cabinet Minister.

To ensure more effective political direction and Parliamentary accountability, there shall be a position of Minister of State that will be appointed from members of the National Assembly and taking direction in their ministerial duties from Cabinet Ministers. These Ministers of State will continue to earn their salary as MP with no additional salary for their ministerial role.

Need for a strong opposition

Shadow Cabinet

The Leader of the Official Opposition shall be enabled to have a Shadow Cabinet.

Question Time

The Opposition will play a key role in Prime Ministerial and Ministerial Question Time sessions in Parliament.

Representation in the electoral system

It is crucial that whatever form reforms to representation take, that they accord to the following principles if Kenyans are to be fairly and equally represented:

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That the people’s choice, as reflected in the election of their representatives, including in Party primaries and nominations, in a proportional system shall be upheld through fair, free and transparent elections.

Individuals included in any Party lists shall initially have undergone a process that uses transparent public participation in the Counties even before any other vetting procedure is used.

That there shall be the equalisation of representation and equality of citizenship, as much as possible, by ensuring that each Kenyan vote has the same status and power, as envisaged in the Constitution.

Parties will be compelled through the Political Parties Act to be consistent with the Constitution to meet the Gender Rule and other Constitutional measures of inclusion through their party lists. This will equalise both genders in political terms, rather than creating a parallel system that creates a sense of tokenism.

All the existing 290 constituencies will be saved, including the protected seats because they have become key for representation of sparsely populated areas.

Devolve political parties to have strong County-based party branches that will allow the people to have the political forums and avenues to hold their elected leaders accountable throughout a term and not just during elections.

The nomination lists through parties should be completed in a transparent process governed by the political parties overseen by the Registrar of Political Parties and the IEBC.

The BBI report notes that the proposals do not interfere any legal or constitutional bodies as the recommendations are a reflection of Kenyan thoughts, ideas and expert advice aimed to be put into practice.

The Prime minister according to the proposal can be dismissed by the President or through a vote of no confidence by the parliamentarians.

Another key aspect addressed by the BBI proposal is the issue of corruption and public servants that engage in the same.  For instance, it proposes that all public officers are banned from engaging in businesses as a way of curbing corruption among government officials.

Devolution and revenue forms a bigger part of the BBI proposal as it recommends that Counties are allocated with 35 percent of the national revenues.

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“When dividing revenues between counties, use a formula that focuses on ensuring services reach the actual settlements of people so that resources are not allocated on the basis of inhibited landmass,” reads the report.

This proposal aims to advance County allocations as currently, the constitution stipulates that at least 15 percent be allocated to devolved units.

Despite the BBI proposal acknowledging that the Devolved government has proven successful, it notes certain challenges that need to be addressed with overall tax base aimed to be lowered to correspond with other economies regionally and globally.

Lack of jobs and unemployment have been raised with the proposal aimed to deal with the challenges facing the economy and addressing the lack of jobs by employing more people.

“We must entirely transform the way our economy operates if we are to deal with the present lack of jobs,” it states.

Gender parity forms part of the BBI discussion with the proposition that the Governors and Deputy Governors be of opposite gender, male or female.

This is aimed to create a balance, with the report citing the past election where only a handful of the County bosses appointed governors from the opposite genders.

Allowances including sitting allowances in the national and county governments are proposed to be eliminated as MPs and MCAs have been linked to benefiting huge from the services.

The report was presented in the presence of the handshake partners,Raila Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta with Deputy President William Ruto and 14 member task force of the BBI also available.

According to the taskforce chairman Yusuf Haji, the report represented the views of different groups of Kenyans from all the 47 counties who participated in the forums.

President Kenyatta and Taskforce Chairman Garissa Senator Yussuf Hajji

“The Face of Kenya was captured with at least 7000 citizens from all ethnic groups, genders, cultural and religious practices and different social and economic sectors coming forward eager to tell of their experiences and solutions to our pressing national challenges, ” the statement reads in part.

About Whispers from the North

Whispers from the North is an online platform that appreciates the ecological, cultural and socio-economic diversities of Northern Kenya. We also acknowledge that the lives of the communities of northern Kenya has been shaped by a number of intrinsic and extrinsic factors which have led to complex challenge that calls for a multifaceted approach.

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