Six counties fail to spend allocated funds

Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo addresses the Senate Finance, Commerce and Economic Affairs Committee at KICC, Nairobi, Tuesday.  [Photo: Boniface Okendo/Standard]

By Alphonce Shiundu

Nairobi, Kenya: Six counties failed to spend half of the money disbursed in the first four months after the General Election, Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo has said.

Makueni, Lamu, Machakos, Kilifi, Trans Nzoia and Nakuru were unable to use half of the money to offer services to their people. The counties will now have to return the money to the County Revenue Fund for it to be re-allocated.

Lamu spent Sh27 million of the Sh157 million disbursed; Machakos spent Sh327 million of its Sh835 million; Kilifi spent Sh196 million of Sh515 million; Nakuru spent Sh298 million against Sh1 billion that was disbursed from the Treasury.

Tana River spent just 41 per cent of the disbursement, that is, Sh101 million of the Sh244 million disbursed. Trans Nzoia spent Sh232 million of the 541 million it had in its coffers.

On the flipside, Nandi, Wajir, Laikipia, Nairobi, Uasin Gishu and West Pokot all spent over 90 per cent of their allocations.

Though the Controller of Budget did not explain why some counties failed to spend the money, she pointed to problems in the counties such as lack of offices and most of them being unable to access the budget module in the Integrated Financial Management Information System.

Ms Odhiambo made the revelations with strict instructions to governors that they must submit their budgets and their respective County Appropriations Act, a warrant signed by the governor.

They are also required to deliver a Refund Statement on monies issued out but not spent by the counties together with bank statements confirming the transfer of funds.

Loan agreements

Billow Kerrow, the chairman of the Senate Committee, also asked the Controller of Budget to intervene in instances where budgets submitted to her office are not the ones approved by the County Assemblies, or those that were approved without a quorum.

Ms Odhiambo said the counties that want money to pay back loans will also have to submit loan agreements.

“We have to be very thorough because if you don’t check these things, you might end up releasing money for loans that have already been repaid in full,” said Ms Odhiambo.

She said counties had to be taught how to budget because some had huge deficits yet they had not explained how the deficits would be catered for, while other counties had budgeted for local revenues, yet they could not show how those revenues would be raised.

Ms Odhiambo said her office was working on a Bill to make sure that it has the capacity to check county budgets at least 60 days to the end of the financial year.

The commission is in talks with those counties with serious deficits in a bid to reduce their expenditure plans to achieve balanced budgets.

Kabondo Kasipul MP Silvance Osele said the counties do not deserve to be punished by denying them the funds they are supposed to be given by the Treasury because of the deficit in their budgets.

“The needs and priorities of a county are known only by the government of the affected county,” Osele said.