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Ojaamong rejects budget over tax target, bursary cuts

By Ignatius Odanga | January 12th 2021
Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong (in cap) inspects the Sh15m Oxygen Plant installed at the Busia County Referral Hospital. [Ignatius Odanga/Standard ]

Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong has rejected a Sh10 billion supplementary budget that the county assembly passed last month.

This after Ojaamong and ward representatives failed to reach a consensus on several items earmarked for funding despite holding a series of informal meetings.

Key among 12 concerns raised by the governor is a suggestion by the MCAs that the county's revenue collection be raised to Sh1.2 billion.

According to Ojaamong, the tax projection was 'unrealistic and unachievable' considering that his administration had targeted to collect Sh400 million – an amount that is yet to be surpassed since the inception of devolution.

Ojaamong is also unhappy that the Budget and Appropriations Committee chaired by Linus Asiba (Matayos South) reduced compensation awarded to children who suffered paralysis after a botched malaria vaccination campaign at the Akichelesit Dispensary in Teso North constituency.

In April last year, the county paid out Sh42.8 million to the victims. At the time, Deputy Governor Moses Mulomi, who is also the Health Executive, said the remaining amount would be paid in the subsequent financial year.

But after the health department set aside Sh19 million in the budget in compliance with a court order, the MCAs reduced the amount to be paid to the affected children by Sh12 million.

The county chief also raised concerns after MCAs slashed funds allocated to the Department of Public Service Administration from Sh120 million to Sh110 million. According to Ojaamong, the Sh10 million is meant to pay the salaries of administrators at the village, ward and sub-county level.

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The ward representatives have also cut the amount allocated for the bursary programme from Sh15 million to Sh3 million. Ojaamong says this will hurt the chances of beneficiaries, who have already been identified.

Asiba said they will address Ojaamong's concerns. "We have scheduled a meeting with the Executive over the issues the governor has raised. A solution will be found and the report tabled in the course of the week."

County revenue has been declining steadily. In the 2019/20 fiscal year, the devolved unit had projected to raise Sh505 million, but only realised Sh226 million.

In the 2018/19 financial year, the county had also missed its target by Sh155 million after only Sh298 million was raised against a Sh453 million target.

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