Fast-track release of revenue to counties, Raila tells Treasury

Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga at the 2nd Homabay International Investment Conference. [Emmanuel Wanson, Standard]

Azimio leader Raila Odinga has appealed to the national government to fast-track release of sharable revenue to counties to enhance service delivery.

Raila said by holding onto the funds, service delivery is hampered in terms of stalled projects and delayed payment of salaries.

He said delayed disbursement of funds to counties is the reason devolved units have huge pending bills that have seen some contractors and suppliers being auctioned by banks over unpaid loans.

The ODM leader's message was delivered by the National Assembly Minority Leader Opiyo Wandayi during the second day of the ongoing Kakamega International Investment Conference (KAIICO) at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (Mmust).

"For the last 10 years, counties have been crying foul about the late disbursements that affect services at the grassroots and the development agenda," said Raila.

Raila also called for political stability in the counties to attract investors.

The opposition leader said investors will only come where there is peace and tranquility devoid of political squabbles, saying it is the only way to spur economic growth and create jobs for the electorate.

"Let's create a conducive environment for investors to come and invest. Counties can work on a public-private partnership model as a way of wooing investors to put money in the hospitality, tourism, and even the agriculture sector," said Raila.

He also encouraged counties to put in place strategies that will help boost own-source revenue to supplement government disbursements but cautioned the devolved units against over-taxing the populace.

Raila's sentiments were shared by Khadijah Nganyi, a commissioner at the Commission for Revenue Allocation (CRA), who said that 'own-source revenue' from counties is at 24 percent, which is very low due to revenue leaks.

Ms Nganyi said about 20 of the 47 counties were still collecting revenue manually thus being exposed to leaks and asked devolved systems to automate revenue streams.

"Counties have the potential to collect Sh216 billion but only collected Sh45 billion in 2022/23 financial year which is less than 20 percent," said Nganyi, adding that Kakamega had potential to collect Sh5.4 billion in the last fiscal year but collected a paltry Sh1.3 billion.

She said that the commission was developing a Tariff and Pricing Policy as a base for collecting own-source revenue for counties.

"The commission is also developing the 'Integrated Revenue Management Systems' to enable counties to collect money without pilferage since we will be able to monitor how the money is collected," said Nganyi.

She added: "We don't want a scenario where every time a new governor comes into office, he or she has to tender a new system for revenue collection which hampers collection." 

Governors Fernandes Barasa, Paul Otuoma (Busia) and James Orengo (Siaya) attended the conference.