Several projects mooted by the Lake region Economic Bloc (LREB) have stalled due to lack of regulations on formation and operation of regional economic blocs.
The fate of the projects among them a Sh.2.8 billion regional bank now hangs in a balance even after the 14 member counties contributed millions from the county allocations for the initiative.
The LREB which brings together Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay, Migori, Kisii, Nyamira, Bomet, Kericho, Nandi, Busia, Bungoma, Vihiga, Trans Nzoia and Kakamega counties was formed in 2018 to foster development in the region.
The counties banked on the regional bank to avail low interest loans to support various initiatives at the same time support Small and Medium Enterprises to spur economic growth in the area.
Besides the projects, operations at the LREB Secretariat in Kisumu have also been greatly hampered by lack of funds.
The LREB Chairman, Wycliffe Oparanya confirmed that lack of regulations on the regional blocs was to blame for slow implementation of the bank and other projects.
“Initially we used to contribute Sh.2 million each from our county allocations to fund operations of the bloc but this stopped due to lack of a legal framework,” he disclosed.
Oparanya however, confirmed that the bloc had not abandoned the projects but was engaged in high level consultations with the national government to fast rack the regulations to unlock funding from the county allocations.
The Devolution Cabinet Secretary (CS) Eugene Wamalwa, he said, has assured the Council of Governors that the draft regulations were ready and will be taken to the National Assembly and Senate for debate and approval.
“We have had a series of meetings with Wamalwa who has assured us that the regulations are ready. We hope that the national Assembly and Senate will fast rack the process so that our projects remain on course,” he said.
Speaking to the media in Kisumu on Thursday, Oparanya who is also the Kakamega County Governor rooted support for the regional blocs saying by counties coming together a lot of development shall be achieved.
Through LREB, the 14 counties had lined up other projects in infrastructure, Information Communication Technology (ICT), education, health, tourism, agriculture, trade, industrialization, water, environment and climate change.
By Chris Mahandara