|September 1st, 2009, 09:37 PM||#1|
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Government to tender bids for building markets
Tenders for the construction of farmers’ markets in constituencies, part of the economic stimulus package meant to jump-start rural economic growth, will be advertised on Friday.
The markets are meant to help smallholder farmers find appropriate facilities to sell and store their produce to reduce waste.
Where such markets exist, the money may be used for renovation and upgrading.
However, the decision to build new markets or renovate existing ones will be made by constituency leaders.
Mr Sammy Kirui, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Local Government, said 180 markets would be built across the country. Each will cost Sh10 million. Treasury will release the money this week.
The ministry is responsible for the construction of the markets.
It will identify contractors through competitive bidding and supervise the projects.
But the role of building jua kali sheds, another part of the stimulus package, will be handled by the Ministry for Industrialisation.
“Construction of the produce markets should be completed by end of December,” said the PS.
Mr Joseph Thairu, the Nyeri town mayor, said some MPs have started interfering with the construction sites.
“Some are proposing sites which are not accessible. Others want new markets to be constructed instead of renovating those that are dilapidated,” he said.
Mr Kirui said local authority leaders should ensure that markets are built where they have the greatest economic impact, and that the sites should be decided through a consultative process.
He spoke when he hosted local authority leaders from across the country to review the ministry’s three- year strategic plan, which includes making local authorities efficient and able to meet liabilities from the revenues they collect.
In addition to failure to meet their pension obligations, local authorities owe creditors up to Sh6.5 billion, an issue identified as a “threat” to their existence.
“We cannot continue to operate like this,” said the PS. Kenya has 175 local authorities but only 40 are able to meet their expenses from the revenues they collect, a criteria the ministry is using to decide the viability of the authorities.
An earlier analysis showed that most authorities collect less than half of their projected revenue.
This is unlike the case in Johannesburg and Durban in South Africa which collect 98 and 99 per cent of their rates respectively. Nairobi collects an average of 50 per cent.
The ministry said there will be two options relating to reducing their numbers — to merge or scrap the authorities.
If merged, the authorities will be assessed to enable them meet their liabilities from revenues.
Mergers will also be partly guided by advice from the Interim Boundaries Review Commission that is currently reviewing administrative and political boundaries.
The strategic plan envisages public/ private partnerships to enable the local authorities develop infrastructure that they could not have been able to finance on their own.
The strategic plan also includes implementation of new accounting standards once Cabinet proposals for amendment of the Local Government Act Cap 265 are finalised.
“The current accounting standards allow for corruption and waste of public funds,” said Mr Tiberius Barasa, a research fellow on governance and development at the Institute of Policy Analysis and Research.