Projects in 24 counties stall over cash crunch

Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo. [File, Standard]
Twenty-four counties failed to undertake any development project even as they focused on paying huge perks to their staff, according to a new report.

Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo (CoB), in her latest report that covers July to September 2018, says the national and county treasuries could be frustrating development projects in devolved units.

The CoB has criticised Treasury over the delays in disbursing funds to counties for various programmes.

The report was released last week and covers the first quarter of the 2018/2019 financial year when several counties were hit by a serious cash crunch which threatened several activities, including payment of salaries.

SEE ALSO :Fifty years after Kenya got her independence, Lamu still neglected

During the period under review, only Sh3.5 billion was used by 23 counties to undertake development.

According to Ms Odhiambo, the counties had expected to receive some Sh450 billion to fund their programmes but only received Sh23.5 billion.

A breakdown of the funds indicates that out of the Sh450 billion, about Sh272 billion was supposed to be spent on recurrent expenditure and some ShSh177 billion for development activities.

The low disbursement meant that counties could only spend on projects that were prioritised.

Similar period

SEE ALSO :Donor funds prop counties as revenue collection falls short

Despite the low disbursement, counties registered 0.9 per cent increase on their expenditures on development compared to Sh1.1 billion that was spent in a similar period in the 2017/2018 financial year.

Counties that spent more on development included Narok, Murang’a and Kitui counties which recorded an absorption rate of 25.9 percent, 14.9 per cent, and 8.4 per cent respectively.

The few counties that undertook development activities focused on infrastructure, with a number investing heavily in the health sector during the period under review.

In Nyanza region, only Migori and Nyamira counties registered expenditures on developments while Kisumu, Kisii, Siaya and Homa Bay counties did not undertake any development projects.

However, counties that did not undertake development projects also fall among those that increased expenditure on wage bill as well as foreign and domestic travels.

SEE ALSO :Matiang’i meets CSs and MPs in new role

In Kisumu County, the CoB said the wage bill increased by about 166 per cent. The county spent Sh1.1 billion on salaries.

In Western region, almost all the counties registered an increase in development activities. Despite Governor Sospeter Ojaamong’s government failing to receive any money from grants, the county spent about Sh100.2 million on development projects.

In Nairobi County, about Sh534.9 million was spent on development and represented about 4.9 per cent of the annual development budget of Sh10.84 billion.

The amount of money the counties expected to receive during the period under review included some Sh314 billion as equitable share of revenue released nationally.

Conditional grants

SEE ALSO :Devolving health services was a bad idea, two lawmakers say

In addition, counties expected to receive some Sh33.2 billion as conditional grants as well as an additional Sh50 billion from the various development partners.

The CoB increased the amount of money that was authorised for withdrawals for counties by about 48.1 per cent from the county revenue.

The office authorised Sh56 billion compared to the Sh37.8 billion that was approved in a similar period in the 2017/2018 financial year.

DevolutionDevelopmentCash crunchController of Budget Agnes Odhiambo