Meru executive and MCAs clash over funding

Meru governor Kiraitu Murungi

The county government and Members of the County Assembly are on a collision course after the ward representatives slashed funds for various departments.

Governor Kiraitu Murungi and Deputy Governor Titus Ntuchiu’s departments were some of the major casualties of the MCAs' move to amend recommendations from the county executive.

During debate on the report by the Finance, Budget and Appropriations Committee on the County Fiscal Strategy Paper 2018, the ward representatives reallocated Sh156 million from Finance, which falls under the deputy governor’s office.

Debate on the report by the committee chaired by Julius Mbijjiwe was heated as some MCAs opposed Deputy Speaker Julius Murega, who introduced amendments to reduce the budget of some departments.

From the Sh1.2 billion meant for the Finance Department, Mr Murega recommended Sh20 million slashed from its recurrent expenditure and Sh156 million from its development expenditure.

Biggest casualties

Murega recommended reallocation of Sh71 million from the Office of the Governor’s recurrent expenditure and Sh20 million from development expenses to buy ambulances. The biggest casualties were Meru Investment and Development Corporation (MIDC) and Meru Microfinance Corporation (MMC), with the latter losing Sh60 million from its lending programme.

Murega, the Municipality MCA, and Mr Mbijjiwe (Mwanganthia) said the recommendations were meant to redirect funds to priority areas such as agriculture, water and education.

“We are doing these deductions and reallocations for mwananchi. What impact have they (MIDC and MMC) had?” posed Murega.

Mbijjiwe said priority should go to funding the Water Department.

“The microfinance corporation has not lent money to small businesses for the last one year."

The ward reps reallocated Sh50 million to build their offices and Sh10 million to install an electric fence and CCTV cameras.

In a move that puts Kiraitu’s free milk programme for Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) centres in jeopardy, the MCAs reallocated Sh101.4 million to infrastructure development in the ECDE centres and polytechnics.

But fellow MCAs pleaded with their colleagues against amending the figures, saying more time was needed for consultations.