Kisii Governor James Ongwae wants Senate to expedite the passing of County Pensions Bill to substantively address pension issues for staff in counties.
Governor Ongwae who chairs the Human Resources, Labour and Welfare committee at the Council of Governors says the issue had dragged on for long affecting welfare issues for staff in counties.
Addressing senators during an induction workshop for the Senate Standing Committee on Labour and Social Welfare at Sankara Hotel in Nairobi, Ongwae urged Senators to prioritize the matter.
“We have three categories – those inherited from former local authorities, those seconded from National Government and those newly employed through County Public Service Boards. Some of these staff belong to contributory pension schemes while others belong to non-contributory pension arrangement,” Ongwae noted.
He explained that while the law requires County Government staff to belong to an existing pension scheme, existing pension funds (LAPFUND and LAPTRUST) were riddled with debts running into billions.
“Following broad consultations, Governors agreed to adopt LAPTRUST and rename it County Pensions Fund and these proposals are contained in the draft bill,” he added.
Committee Chairman and Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja said the pensions bill had been re-introduced in the Senate and was due for the first reading assuring Governors that the views of stakeholders will be respected.
“The draft pensions bill was introduced in Senate in 2016 but it lapsed in the previous house. This is why it has been introduced afresh,” he said.
Governor Ongwae also called for harmonization of human resource issues in County and National Governments to facilitate vertical and horizontal transfers.
“Currently, we have varying schemes of service, career progression guidelines and designation nomenclature. We need to standardize this to allow for transfers between counties and the two levels of government. We have recommended the establishment of a taskforce to comprehensively deal with this matter,” observed Ongwae.
Principal Secretaries Khadijah Kassachoon (Labour) and Susan Mochache (Social Security and Pensions) were present at the function.
Governor Ongwae asked the Ministry of Labour to take an active role in handling of industrial and labour relations in the country unlike the situation currently.
He also asked the State Department for Social Security to involve County Governments when rolling out social assistance programmes like Cash Transfers for orphans, the elderly and vulnerable children.
“Social security is not devolved but due to the demand on the ground, counties want to be involved. We need guidance from the National Government because issues like rehabilitation of street children directly affect us on the ground yet we have no budget lines for this,” he added.
Senator Sakaja said the current Senate had a different disposition regarding engagement with Counties saying Kenyans were not interested in supremacy battles between Senate, National Assembly and Governors.