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Agony as cash crunch hits Counties

By Standard Team | Published Thu, August 16th 2018 at 00:00, Updated August 15th 2018 at 23:31 GMT +3

A severe cash crunch has hit four of the six Counties in Nyanza, resulting in salary delays and interruption of essential services.

The financial crisis was partly caused by delays in passing budget estimates. By yesterday, only Kisii and Migori had paid July salaries. Workers in Kisumu, Homa Bay, Siaya and Nyamira were yet to be paid.

With the counties struggling to update and upload their budget estimates, thousands of workers may have to wait until September to get their July salaries.

Nyamira is worst hit as it has not paid its workers for the past three months, leading to a nurses strike that paralysed services in public hospitals. Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay and Migori called for patience.

Some counties are so broke that they are unable to fuel official cars. Kisumu, for example, could not even send a team to the on-going county games in Kisii. In a memo, seen by The Standard, Kisumu Tourism, Sports and Culture Executive Achie Alai said they could not send a delegation to the games due to lack of funds.

In Nyamira, County Secretary Eric Onchana said budget proposals hitches had been resolved and salaries were being processed.

"We have already uploaded the county budget and at the moment we are finalising the process," he said.

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Mr Onchana told The Standard that Governor John Nyagarama wrote to Treasury demanding for cash.

He added that the ongoing health workers' strike would soon end as negotiations between the county government and unions were ongoing.

Last week, Health Executive Douglass Bosire announced that the medics could be sacked if they did not return to work. Mr Bosire added that the health workers would not be paid their salaries for the months they were on strike over delayed salaries. But Onchana said the decision was among the issues being discussed.

In Kisumu, thousands of employees had their hopes of getting their pay yesterday dashed after Finance Chief Officer Eric Angwenyi said the salaries were not ready.

"The department of finance is still in the process of uploading the 2018-19 budget. This has caused a delay in the requisition of funds from the National Treasury for the payment of salaries," Mr Angwenyi said in a Memo to workers.

Employees who spoke to The Standard blamed the county treasury for the delay.

"The county officials knew the financial year was coming to an end on June 30. They knew any delay in finalising the budget would make them go without money for months.  They could have prevented this mess through good planning," said an employees who sought anonymity.

Some workers said they had been given quit notices by their landlords.

In Homa Bay, Finance Chief Officer Noah Otieno said workers would get their salaries in two weeks time.

Mr Otieno said they were working hard to ensure the delay which occurred in the budget preparation addressed.

Appropriation bill

"Governor Cyprian Awiti has assented to the Appropriation Bill. We are now taking it to Controller of Budget for advice and approval," he said.

"I appeal to the workers to be patient because I hope we will access the money after two weeks,"  he added.

In Migori, workers accused the county government of being insensitive to their plight. But County Director of Press Nicholas Anyuor said workers had started receiving their salaries.

"Some employees started receiving their salaries on Monday. I know by end of today (yesterday), everyone will have been paid," he said.

But County Workers Union Migori branch Secretary Barasa Nguka said some workers had not been paid by yesterday.


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