The Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) has appealed to the Senate through the Kisii Senator Sam Ongeri to back its bank project to enable it to fulfil its cherished dreams. Speaking at Kisii sports club where the block held its 4th summit, the Bloc’s CEO Abala Wanga said some Senators don’t want the creation of the LREB bank due to ulterior motives, and likened them to those who despised the creation of the African Development Bank over claims the World Bank was too superior.
Abala urged 10 County Assemblies including Bomet, Bungoma, Busia, Homa Bay, Kericho, Nandi, Nyamira, Siaya, Trans Nzoia and Vihiga which have not passed the LREB Bill to expedite the process, adding that only Kakamega, Kisumu, Migori and Homa Bay Counties have passed the bill.
“The passage of the LREB Bill at County Assemblies will legalize the entity and make it possible for the 14 member states of the bloc to achieve its agendas,” he said.
In response, Prof Ongeri said he will be in the forefront to push for the establishment of the LREB Bank to match ADB which has grown into the greatest economic bloc in the world closely followed by the European Bank.
“The bank has an idea of fomenting, researching, collating and synthesising critical information for critical development; so I won’t see anybody being against anything that would help to add value to what you already have value in your hands. Rest assured in senate it will have my support,” he said, and urged bloc members not to duplicate projects.
Vihiga governor Dr.Wilber Ottichilo described the Bloc as the most pro-active basing on the ongoing policy establishment and planning that will drive the agenda through legal framework.
Dr.Ottichilo urged Counties to speed up the policy making process so that focus is shifted towards implementation of the program. “We are on a journey that will not fail, we have already done the planning and now implementation our focus this year,” said the Vihiga county boss.
His counterpart James Ongwae, Kisii governor, said synergizing and mobilization of resources within member counties will uplift development agenda for better livelihoods.
Governor Ongwae added that if a dream to establish a financial institution succeeds it will uplift businesses among the approximated 14 million people living within the region.
The governors also lauded President Uhuru Kenyatta on his directive to the Ministry of Devolution and ASAL to develop a National Policy on Regional Economic Bloc. In a communiqué issued at the end of the fourth summit at Kisii Sports Club, the Governors said they are grateful that the Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry, Eugene Wamalwa has initiated the process for development of this policy.
CS Wamalwa said that the draft policy that will cover all the six regional economic blocs has reached public participation stage, adding that the final draft will be submitted to the Cabinet by January 31, 2019.
The Bloc’s Chairman, H.E Wycliffe Oparanya who read the communiqué thanked Kakamega, Kisumu, Kisii and Migori Counties for ratifying the LREB Bill 2018. “We also acknowledge that the bill is in various stages of legislation in the remaining 10 counties,” he explained.
We are confident that by the end of February, 2019 we shall have reached the requisite number of six required for establishment of our bloc,” he added.
On the establishment of the Regional Bank, Oparanya said they have concluded the drafting of the LREB joint venture agreement pursuant to advice from the Auditor General, Controller of Budget and the Office of the Attorney General.
On the sugar sector revival, the chairman said the joint national government and LREB Task Force on sugar sector is in its final phase of fact finding, adding that the taskforce will be holding leaders’ consultative meetings and stakeholders’ forum between January 15 and 19, 2019.
The Governors thanked the President on his directive that payment to sugar farmers commence immediately. The Governors urged the CS for Agriculture and Livestock to expedite the process.
The Kakamega Governor disclosed that they have started expansion of regional infrastructure with particular interest being the expansion of the inter-county road network and maritime transport across Lake Victoria.
He said discussions on refurbishment of ports, landing bays, water hyacinth clearing and dredging of the Lake are at an advanced stage, adding that the bloc continues to receive interest from private sector actors keen to invest in maritime transport in the region. The summit had representation from 13 out of 14 member states.