Governors seek Uhuru's help in county cash war with Yatani

8 months ago 130

County bosses have asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to end what they termed perennial and unwarranted delays in the disbursement of their share of revenue by the National Treasury.

The Council of Governors said counties have suffered for long in the wake of the persistent delays which they say put a strain on county operations.

The county chiefs have written to the President asking him to direct Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani to release Sh29.6 billion owed to counties for June.

“We implore upon you [Uhuru] to direct the National Treasury to disburse the remaining fund to the counties forthwith,” the letter signed by CoG chairman Martin Wambora reads.

CoG data shows that Treasury has disbursed 92 per cent of last financial year's allocation and that counties collected Sh27 billion from their own sources.

Governors say they are in arrears of pending bills and are unable to pay county staff their salaries, pay suppliers and offer essential services to residents.

“The delays have jeopardised the operations and service delivery in counties,” the county chiefs said.

They added that the delays were a breach of the Constitution and Public Finance Management Act, 2012.

“These legal frameworks clearly provide for the timely disbursement of an equitable share of revenue to facilitate county governments in the delivery of public services,” the county chiefs said.

Machakos' Alfred Mutua said, "We would like to know where is the money? Is the country broke? We don't think the government is broke."

"If this money doesn't flow, things don't work. Tell us where the money has gone to. We are not asking but demanding."

Governors further decried challenges of persistent downtime in the Integrated Financial Management Information System blamed on a large number of transactions following the delays.

Eight days into the new financial year, governors said there was likely to be a huge crisis since IFMIS has locked transactions that are already in progress.

County bosses thus want the National Treasury to allow counties to transact through IFMIS until July 15.

“This will enable counties to process and complete transactions that are already in progress under the IFMIS,” the letter reads.

The cash crisis, they said, is expected to get worse this year following the late approval of the County Governments Additional Allocations Bill, 2022 by Parliament, which unlocks the funds.

The debate headlined the farewell party for 21 two-term governors who are retiring in August held in Nairobi on Friday.

This was as the governors took stock of devolution nine years later saying despite the teething problems, the governance system “is indeed a game-changer in this country.”

“The gains of devolution are immense and as we look forward to the next elections, I urge the citizens to ensure that all aspirants are defenders of devolution,” Wambora said.

Apart from the disbursement challenges, governors say there are still problems with the situation where national institutions have been established to “undermine functional integrity of county governments.”

The county bosses also acknowledged challenges with corruption at both levels of government, slow implementation of intergovernmental decisions and poor generation of revenue.

Governors also lamented about state agencies and parastatals that continue to receive colossal budgets and also continue to perform county functions nine years after devolution.

The county chiefs said devolution has seen an improvement in agriculture citing increased production of sugarcane, horticultural produce for exports and milk.

“The overall value of marketed agricultural production increased by 4.3 per cent from Sh505.3 billion in 2020 to Sh527.0 billion in 2021,” the State of Devolution report reads.

The governors said they are confident they have improved the health systems in the counties including infrastructure, human resources for health, health commodities supply chain and financing.

They held that following devolution, the number of health facilities has increased by six per cent from 13,190 in 2021 to the present 13,772

“Across the 47 county governments inclusive of private, and referral facilities, there are 1,278 functional critical care beds (ICU and HDU beds),” COG report reads.

Governors further said there were efforts to increase the storage capacity of blood and blood products in the 47 counties, of which 12 have already set up blood transfusion centres.

They also cited significant investments in renewable energy reporting an increase in wind power projects in ten counties.

Several wind power projects are underway including Kipeto (100 MW), Isiolo (100 MW), Meru (60 MW), Ngong’ (51 MW) and the Baharini Electra Wind Farm project in Lamu (90 MW).

On water connectivity, the council said a total of 2,509,012 households in Kenya are connected to piped water systems and a total of 828,927 households are connected to piped sewer systems.

“Counties have constructed a total of 3,184 water pans with Nyeri County leading with a total of 1,000 water pans,” the report reads.

Also cited were improvements in trade, tourism, blue economy, gender, and education sectors.

The governors said they have adopted the project management committees approach to increase public participation.

(Edited by Tabnacha O)

Source : The Star