Local Government Property Tax Administration and Collaboration with Central Government: Case Studies of Kiambu, Laikipia, and Machakos Counties Kenya

Local Government Property Tax Administration and Collaboration with Central Government: Case Studies of Kiambu, Laikipia, and Machakos Counties Kenya

Property taxes are a major source of revenue at sub national levels in most countries, with significant implications for state building and public accountability. However, their administration is complex and in most cases the process involves both national and sub-national governments. In Kenya, county governments have legislative authority to levy property taxes and the responsibility to finance some of the cost of the services they provide.

Counties face several challenges in administration of property tax like: weak collection systems, infrastructure, administrative and technical capacity and weak links between taxes and service delivery.

Some of the findings from the study is that the counties under study did not obtain complete land registers from the defunct local authorities and some did not have complete and updated property valuation registers. Further, some of the existing valuation rolls are outdated and weakly automated. This contributes to poor tax administration, revenue leakages and inefficiencies.

These challenges present potential areas for collaboration between national and county governments in property tax administration, including through information and data sharing, capacity building, automation, mapping, zoning and updating of valuation rolls and land registers. It is hoped that the findings and case material in this study will be useful both to tax researchers and to policymakers. The study helps to fill a gap in the literature regarding implementation challenges at a practical level. Policymakers at both national and county levels have a great deal to gain from strengthening property tax administration systems, but doing so will require greater transparency and more pronounced willingness to collaborate than currently exists.

Review of Solid Waste and Sanitation in Nairobi County: Case study Kibra Sub County

Review of Solid Waste and Sanitation in Nairobi County: Case study Kibra Sub County

Solid waste and sanitation management refers to the collecting, treating and disposing of solid material that is discarded because it has served its purpose or is no longer useful. Improper disposal of municipal solid waste can create unsanitary conditions and these conditions can in turn lead to pollution of the environment and to outbreaks of vector –borne diseases. The task of solid waste management present complex technical challenges. They also pose a wide variety of administrative, economic and social problems that must be manage and solved. (Curley & A. Nathanson, 2010)

Solid waste management also offers solutions for recycling items that do not belong to garbage or trash. On the other hand, proper solid waste and sanitation management is an integral part of environmental conservation that should be observed by individuals and companies globally. This will keep the environment clean and safe and reduce health and settlement problems.

The increase in population in Kenya has led to rapid urban growth which has led to a rapid increase in informal settlements. Kibra Sub County is one of the informal settlements in Nairobi county which is characterized by: overcrowding, lack of formal employment opportunities and access to clean water, poverty, exposure to HIV and sexually transmitted diseases, and poor sanitation among others.

The study made several findings and observations on provision of services on matters of solid waste management by the county government as follows:

Garbage collection in Kibra Sub county has been organized in three different ways; i) individuals selected by the County who work mainly along the tarmac roads; ii) community groups (Community Based Organisations) collect from different households at a fee of Kenya shillings 20, constituting of between 10-20 people per group; and iii) private companies sub contracted by the county government to collect garbage from holding points only, since they have trucks and employ the youth to load the garbage to their trucks. This organization of garbage collection has seen young people being employed and earn a living, and improved cleanliness of the sub county.

Despite the efforts to collect and dispose solid waste, there are challenges still: Kibra Sub County residents remain exposed to diseases such as malaria, cholera and dysentery and air pollution because some of the residents cannot afford the garbage collection service charge and thus dump garbage in the trenches hence blocking them. Lindi and Makina wards lack holding points since they are overcrowded and the space available is for footpaths since the shacks are built adjacent to one another. Not to mention the delayed payment to the private companies causing them to withdraw from the task thus the holding points pile up and pose health risks to residents.

To address the challenges of Solid Waste Management an integrated approach is needed. Through identifying key stakeholders, specific issues which comprise important ‘stumbling blocks’ and make recommendations based on appropriate technologies, local information and pressing human and environmental concerns. More so, operationalize existing policies on solid waste management and collaboration between the national and county government on the issues, conducting civic education on importance of disposing solid waste in the right places and taking civic action to ensure clean and safe environment.

Sarah Palin and Martha Karua, Is this what women are in politics, just a little seasoning of salt and pepper?

Sarah Palin and Martha Karua, Is this what women are in politics, just a little seasoning of salt and pepper?

The introduction of Sarah Palin as the running mate totally revolutionised the Republicans campaign. Suddenly there was a breath of fresh air for the Grand Old Party, with its grand old presidential candidate. The citizens went out to the meetings, to see and hear her! Why is the gender card becoming a very significant consideration? 

On the local scene, we saw one presidential candidate take a woman as a running mate but the election aftermath indicates that this choice was only to hoodwink voters and the candidate did not really see the running mate as even deserving nomination to the parliament when the party had at least two slots. 

Generally, “public” politics have been patriarchal in nature and have been a very difficult arena for women.  In most of the campaigns, women are assaulted not only because they are competitors but because they are women.  For instance a significant number of women candidates who suffered brutal attacks during the 2007 campaigns were targeted by their competitors because they are the “weaker” sex. 

So are women key players in politics? Are women likely to change the political scene? Do we expect better leadership with women in control? Or are they just considered a bridge to the women folk who tend to be the majority in any populace?

So women need to play politics from Realpolitik perspective, looking at what is in it for them! Looking at where does the power lie and how can they can amass it? Perhaps not. Women need to be the people who will introduce the new values in the political system. 

Shirley Chrisholm, the first black congressional woman, had to overcome two hurdles to get to that position; the hurdle of race and gender. But in her analysis, she stated “as a black person, I am no stranger to race prejudice. But the truth is in the political world, I have been far often discriminated against because I am a woman than because I am black”.

Over decades women have been demanding for equality – to be given equal chance or opportunities in education, in employment, just to mention a few. For instance, it’s not until the 80s when women at lower cadre in civil service were accepted as permanent and pensionable. It was argued that the women would benefit from their husbands packages in the future and therefore they did not deserve.  At the same time, women were and sometimes are still paid less for the same or even more work.  The society has been skewed against women and this scenario needs to be changed.

But the recent political scenes indicate that we are yet to overcome this hurdle – from America to Kenya – people still ask, are we ready for a woman president? In the dialogue against inequalities, this should be considered, the wrong question, the unfair question! Why should people ask this question?  There is a system of prejudice that lies unspoken behind that question.  To quote the words of Shirley “the unspoken assumption is that women are different.  They do not have executive abilities, orderly minds, stability, leadership skills and they are too emotional.”

So is this the reason why the candidature of Martha Karua is so unpalatable, or is it because she has introduced the succession debate too early? Why do people think she is the only one talking succession? Everyone else with possible candidature is actually working on the possibility of being given the mantel – look at Raila, Kalonzo, Uhuru. They are all positioning themselves for 2012. The only thing that differentiates them is where they are place in the political hierarchy. Our dear Martha, will have to work harder to be considered. So why not start early?

But is succession debate, discussions, positioning a bad thing for Kenya at this time? It seems bad, unnecessary, when it’s being done by one Martha Karua.  However, if we look carefully, everyone potential candidate is actually engaged in this process, discussions, lobbying and campaigning; only the processes are different due to the different positions each of the people hold. 

So if you are not in the club of the old boys, then you have to fight a little harder, use unconventional means and take a little longer since you are not likely to be an “Uhuru project”. So am all for Martha Karua, go gal!

During the trying times of our country early this year, Martha proved to be tough negotiator, principled politician and (many have misgivings about her role though but truth be told, if she did not stand firm, we would not be having a grand coalition, and our healing would not be any closer).  Actually someone defined Martha during that period “as the only man in Kibaki’s government”. Of course the statement is full of underlying prejudice that its only men who can do it; and that now that she is this strong, perhaps God gave her the wrong gender?

We ought to get rid of this prejudice and narrow mindedness. Women have and can do just as well in politics.

So women in politics, are not there just to spice things up, they are not the little salt or pepper we need to make the food tastier; they are not the people who add red and cream to the black suited parliament, they are key change agents and the day we shall embrace more women in politics and leadership in general, is the day our society shall experience real change and economic growth.

It Is All Or Nothing, Mr. Muchuki and Mr. President – Taxation Should Not Target the Poor Majority

It Is All Or Nothing, Mr. Muchuki and Mr. President – Taxation Should Not Target the Poor Majority

Kenya argues that it applies a progressive form of taxation where those with less pay less, and those with more are taxed more, but this is not true if the political class is treated differently.  

I would like to appeal to the president of the republic to Kenya NOT to assent to the financial bill. Mr. President, it is either the government nets all the tax or nothing from the rest of us.  While the conscience of the Acting Finance Minister, John Michuki could not allow him to move the motion to delete the clause that would otherwise authorize the Kenya Revenue Authority to deduct MPs allowance, he seemed fine if someone else did move the motion to strike. In other words, it is fine to ensure the tax from other citizens and the Corporate be deducted as the House decides whether or not they should be taxed and by how much.

The die is not cast, neither is the matter rested. I don’t think Kenyans ought to wait for the Parliamentary Commission to discuss the how to tax the MPs, the Parliamentarians are not first rate Kenyans, therefore the same rules should apply to them.

When the President assented to the salaries increase in 2003, the parliamentarians, supported by the executive (never mind one is made up of a section of the others) argued that with the “proper salary structure” (read amounts) they would ensure that proper taxation is done and that they would avoid having the bulk of the salaries being in form of allowances.

They also argued that MPs should get a development fund hence the Constituency Development Fund.  This would then ensure that the MPs did not have to share his salary with there constituencies.  However, as soon as the two agendas were passed by the parliament, the issue of taxation was forgotten. It took five more years to actually get the government to introduce the taxation proposal.

The MPs argue that they give their “salaries” for burials, weddings.  They forget that we all do give to this events based on our level of influence and the amounts we have! In fact if we were to wait on our MPs for burial and wedding contributions, we might end up having unburied relatives and unwedded couples gauging by the dismal performance.

Mr. Henry Kosgei in his explanation as to why he doesn’t think he should pay taxes to KRA said that he would rather give the money to his constituency since he doesn’t know where the money will go if he gives it to KRA. Then let us apply this logic to ALL Kenyans.  Since we don’t know how KRA will spend the money, let each of us build their own road from our houses, our own hospitals near our homes – this is taking us back to barbaric years! Kenyans actually voted MPs to provide oversight over our finances, to check the government (KRA) and to ensure all our funds are spent in the right manner, how say he doesn’t know how KRA will spend the money? This says a lot of our MPs have no idea why they are in the House!  

At this point it seems we are operating under a Monarchy – where we all leave to serve the bidding of the king and he owns all the properties and people. He owns the land and determines when he wakes up, what new thing he wants ranging from a young virgin to satisfy his needs to a parcel of land, leave alone the fact that it may be a water catchment that would eventually affect many.  Unfortunately now the monarchy has over 200 kings and queens, all waiting to be satisfied. This is unattainable.

Kenyans are saying it either ALL or NOTHING, no taxation to the rest, if the finance bill will not include the taxation clause for the MPs.