FES Kenya Occassional Paper, No. 6 ISBN: 9966-957-09-x Intergovernmental Relations Act 2012: Reflection and Proposals on Principles, Opportunities and Gaps
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Intergovernmental relation is an important principle in realising synergy among different levels of government and within specific levels for stability of entire government. It applies irrespective of the system of government embraced by a country since there is always the state and its related agency the government. For governments to work efficiently there has to be further decentralisation with lower levels of government taking central role in implementation of policies through various programmes. Although decentralisation, in particular its devolution aspect has been challenging to effectively realise, many countries have opted for some form of decentralisation aimed at ensuring efficient provision of services. For many years Kenya embraced the deconcentration form of decentralisation which did not give full powers to local governments. Decision making was largely done at the centre with the Local Authorities (LAs) not having a free hand to formulate policies and laws relevant for managing their jurisdictions. Critiques of this model attributed the poor record of local development to the strong hand of central government, and advocated during the Constitution making for devolution of powers to the lower levels of government. This was achieved through the promulgation of the Kenya Constitution in August 2010. This, notwithstanding, more work remained to be done in terms of enacting relevant laws for full realisation of the devolution aspect of the Constitution. To achieve this, a Task Force was constituted to come up with a report, policy and propose relevant Acts of Parliament for operationalisation of devolution. It is this process enabled by various government agencies and the Parliament that produced the Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) Act, 2012. The IGR Act 2012 is Kenya’s mechanisms for ensuring smooth operation between the two levels of government, National and County created by the Constitution of Kenya. Whereas there are many provisions in the Constitution that inform the IGR, Article 6 (2) is particularly crucial. The Article provides for two levels of governments at the national and county levels. The provision notes that the `governments are distinct and inter-dependent and shall conduct their mutual relations on the basis of consultation and cooperation’. These are not unique caveats to Kenya. They prevail in other jurisdictions which have embraced higher forms of decentralisation such as USA, South Africa and Nigeria. Apart from this introduction, this paper reviews the IGR Act of Kenya, 2012 by first providing a conceptual understanding of intergovernmental relations followed by presentation and discussion of the provisions of the IGR Act, 2012, including opportunities and gaps.