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No money is lying idle at CBK, governors respond to Yatani

By Roselyne Obala | January 16th 2021 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

National Treasury and Planning Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Governors have hit out at the national government over delayed disbursement of funds to counties.

In a statement yesterday, Council of Governors (CoG) Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya termed as untrue National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani’s assertions that Sh34.6 billion was lying idle at the Central Bank of Kenya while counties protested delayed release of funds from the exchequer.

In addition to the Sh93.9 billion already released to counties, Mr Oparanya said seven counties have outstanding disbursements for the months of September and October, 2020.

This comes as senators called for a meeting of stakeholders to discuss the debt issue and how it will be managed amid an ailing economy, coupled with effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Responding to Yatani’s statement that the Treasury has so far released Sh133 billion to counties, Oparanya said the monies the CS made reference to were already committed to ongoing or unfinished projects in the respective counties.

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“Therefore, no idle money is lying in the County Revenue Fund Accounts at the Central Bank of Kenya because all this is money already committed to the projects awaiting to be paid out,” said the Kakamega governor.

“The total amount of equitable share transferred to county governments by the National Treasury for the Financial Year 2020/2021 is Sh93.9 billion and it doesn’t in any way cover the entire monies owed for the four months of October, November, December and January.”

Oparanya said a total of Sh89.6 billion is still owed to the 47 counties.

But Yatani insists this position is not true as the money owed to counties now is only for two and not three months.

The Treasury CS had said the government had released Sh133 billion to county governments so far this financial year. He said Sh120.2 billion was the equitable share while conditional grants stood at Sh13 billion.

Yatani blamed the coronavirus pandemic for delay in releasing two-month allocations. Even then, Yatani said as at January 13, counties had Sh34.6 billion as balances at the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).

“I appeal to the county governments to make full use of these funds in the meantime,” Yatani said on Thursday.

Yesterday, Senate Minority Whip Mutula Kilonzo Jnr said it is not in doubt that the country is facing a financial crisis.

“The national government must admit that and counties must accept the same to avoid their usual hubris,” said the Makueni senator, who is also a member of the Senate Finance and Budget Committee.

“There are those who have suggested that a joint committee to handle and deliberate on our debts, financial gaps and others should be formed,” he said.

Lawyer Peter Wanyama said it is unconstitutional for the Treasury not to release funds to counties on time.

“Counties are now unable to complete development projects but on the other hand, the government has no money to an extent that even if you go to court, you will not get any money unless it borrows to pay,” Wanyama said.

Funds Allocation Treasury CS Ukur Yattani
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