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Eye on development: Mombasa, Kitui shine on project funding

Controller of Budget (CoB) Margaret Nyakang’o. [David Njaaga, Standard]

Development spending in counties between July 2021 and March this year dropped to Sh44 billion from Sh48 billion recorded during the 2020/2021 financial year.

The absorption rate dipped from 25 to 23 per cent in the last financial year for many governors who will be retiring after serving two terms, or seeking re-election.

Controller of Budget (CoB) Margaret Nyakang’o said that 19 counties recorded an absorption rate of less than 20 per cent of development expenditure. Taita Taveta County, according to the CoB report, spent Sh84 million on development activities, or 2.9 per cent of available funds, from a proposed budget of Sh2.9 billion.

Machakos, Baringo and Nairobi counties spent less than 10 per cent on development, according to the CoB. Other counties that posted dismal expenditures include Lamu, Narok, Wajir, Nyandarua, Kisumu, Kiambu, Turkana, West Pokot, Trans Nzoia, Siaya, Garissa Kilifi, Elgeyo Marakwet, Vihiga, and Migori.

Kitui County, which spent Sh2.2 billion out of a Sh4.1 billion budget (53.6 per cent), was the best performing devolved unit, while Mombasa at 51.5 per cent, and Marsabit at 50.6 per cent followed closely.

“The Controller of Budget recommends that counties prioritise the implementation of development projects to improve the standard of living for their citizens,” the report noted.

It added, “Further, county governments should ensure that expenditure on development activities meets the minimum set ceiling of 30 per cent of their budgets.”

Counties, on aggregate, spent Sh140 billion on personnel emoluments, an increase from Sh117 billion incurred in a similar period of FY 2020/21.

An analysis of the percentage of personnel emoluments to the first nine months of proportional revenue by county shows that 20 county governments were above the allowable limit of 35 per cent.

The report shows 21 counties recorded a below 50 per cent performance in local revenue collections during FY 2021-2022.

Busia County, which had the worst performance, had targeted to collect Sh227 million but it only managed 23 per cent of the target.

Trans Nzoia and Kajiado counties recorded 24 per cent and 28.5 per cent, respectively, of targeted collections.

Uasin Gishu, Machakos, Kilifi, Kisii, Marsabit, Nyamira, Elgeyo Marakwet, Makueni, Nandi, Wajir, Meru, Kisumu, Nairobi, Bungoma, Kitui, Embu, Garissa and Murang’a counties are also cited in the CoB report for below par collections.

Homa Bay, Migori and Turkana counties, however, achieved the highest performance, according to the report.

“The low performance of own-source revenue collections should be addressed to avoid hidden budget deficits and reduce pending bills at year-end,” the report noted. “The Controller of Budget advises counties to review the revenue targets to realistic amounts during the planning and budgeting process.”

Dr Nyakang’o said that wage bills amounting to Sh11.99 billion were processed through manual systems and vouchers. “This is contrary to government policy, which requires salaries to be processed through the IPPD (Integrated Personnel and Payroll Database) system. The manual payroll is prone to abuse and may lead to the loss of public funds with a lack of proper controls.”