Revenue agency want County governments expenditure limits retained

Commission of Revenue Allocation (CRA) Chairperson Jane Kiringai when she appeared before the Senate Finance Committee at County Hall, Nairobi. [Boniface Okendo/Standard]

The revenue allocation agency wants counties to allocate Sh5 billion more for development in the next financial year even as it seeks to retain expenditure cuts imposed on regional governments.

In the proposals made by the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) to the Senate, county assemblies and the executives are barred from exceeding Sh33.2 billion in recurrent expenditure.

Instead, CRA wants counties to allocate an additional Sh5.2 billion for development over and above the current limit of Sh27 billion.

This means that the salaries, benefits and allowances for governors, deputy governors, ward reps and county executives will be affected as phase one of salary review for the county assembly employees is implemented.

The review is based on the job evaluation results as per Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) Circular Ref. SRC/TS/JE/CG/3/33/6 Vol.II (134) dated September 18, 2017.

The commission’s recommendations to the Senate, proposing a nil increase to the provisions for budget ceilings for recurrent expenditure for county assemblies and county executives for the financial year 2020/2021, are in line with the government’s austerity measures announced by National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani.

Under the proposals, Nairobi County’s executive spending on salaries and allowances has been pegged at Sh760 million, Kakamega and Kiambu at Sh673 million each, Nakuru Sh656 million. The recurrent budget for Kisii and Bungoma county executive has been capped at Sh621 million.

For the county assemblies, Nairobi still leads in the list with its expenditure limit capped at Sh1.4 billion, followed by Kakamega and Kiambu with slightly more than Sh1 billion each, Nakuru Sh983 million, Kisii Sh919 million, Meru Sh914 million while Bungoma and Homa Bay spending has been capped at Sh852 million.

In a letter to Senate Clerk Jeremiah Nyegenye dated December 18, 2019, CRA chair Jane Kiringai said the recommendations were arrived after consultations with the Controller of Budget (CoB), SRC, Council of Governors and Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.

The recommendations came amid concerns about rising county wage bill as well as spending on foreign and local travel.

Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr (Makueni), a member of the Finance Committee said, quarterly reports from CoB show counties have surpassed budget ceilings, especially on wages.

“This is a flawed process (setting budget ceilings) because counties have been cheating. They do not stick to budget lines, the CoB approves requisitions but has no control on adherence,” he said.

For the county assemblies’ salaries, the ceilings will affect allowances such as mileage and insurance as well as gratuity for speakers and ward reps.

The ceilings also target county assembly service boards and secretariat’s salaries, allowances and gratuity as well as salaries and allowances for ward reps’ contracted staff. Dr Kiringai proposes that budgets for operations and maintenance be based on the 2018/2019 financial year figure.

This will apply for oversight and public participation, training and setting up of audit committees.

For the executive, the proposals will affect salaries, allowances, insurance and gratuity for governor and deputy governors.

The same will apply for county administration staff.

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