Crisis as MCAs tell Ngilu off on funds

Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu. [File, Standard]
The Executive and the County Assembly have renewed their rivalry, with the two sides trading accusations over spending of cash.

The latest trouble for the Charity Ngilu-led Executive started two weeks ago after the assembly shot down her supplementary budget that had suggested allocation for various recurrent expenditures, among them salaries and wages for county workers.

The assembly voted to reject the supplementary budget, terming it an ill-informed venture that had created loopholes to steal public funds.

Following rejection of the supplementary budget, June salaries for county workers have been delayed and it is not clear when they will be paid.

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In an internal memo dated July 4, and addressed to chief officers, County Secretary Alex Kimanzi urged the senior officers to communicate the delay to their staff.

“In the supplementary budget submitted to the assembly, there was a request to provide money for salaries and wages for June 2019. Following its rejection, I wish to inform you that there will be an unusual delay in the payment of salaries. However, the Executive is taking necessary measures to ensure this is resolved at the earliest opportunity possible,” the memo reads.

In a Press statement released on Friday and signed by Speaker George Ndoto, the assembly noted that the Executive went against the law in proposing transfer of funds from the development budget to pay salaries and wages.

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“Section 154 of the Public Finance Management Act, 2012, prohibits an accounting officer from authorising the transfer of an amount that is appropriated for capital expenditure except to defray other capital expenditure. The supplementary budget had proposed reallocation of funds from development to recurrent, which is illegal,” the assembly statement read.

The Speaker noted that the assembly, which is the custodian of the law, was not expected to approve supplementary budgets prepared against the law.

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In a Press briefing in her office on Saturday, Governor Ngilu claimed the assembly was bent on frustrating her so that she might look bad in the eyes of voters.

Mrs Ngilu noted that her duty was to spend money or propose ways of spending the same, and seek approval from the County Assembly.

On the delayed salaries for the county staff, the governor urged the workers to “appreciate the challenge” and be patient.

“We are waiting to get money from the national government. Once we receive the money, we shall pay them (workers),” Ngilu said.

Some MCAs have, however, accused the Executive of getting its priorities wrong.

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They challenged the governor to explain how funds budgeted for salaries at the beginning of the last financial year were used.

But county Planning Department explained that the funds earlier budgeted for salaries were used to foot an accrued KRA tax liability from 2013 to 2017.

Unauthorised recruitment

James Munuve (Kanziko MCA), who sits in the Budget Committee, said the salary mess had been caused by irregular and unauthorised recruitment of staff in the department of Health and Sanitation, which had caused the wage bill to skyrocket.

The assembly has accused the Executive of illegally hiring casual workers, which has made the county wage bill to shoot to Sh4.4 billion from Sh2 billion since Ngilu took over.

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Last week, the assembly passed this financial year’s Sh11.5 billion budget with amendments and warned the governor against reallocating funds meant for development to other non-priority projects.

“This budget is itemised with money allocated for specific projects in specific areas,” said Leader of Minority John Kisangau (Yatta/Kwa Vonza ward).

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Charity NgiluGeorge NdotoKitui CountyMCAs