Health, social projects top Mt Kenya counties' budget estimates

Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga when he appeared before the County Public Accounts Committee (CPAIC) at Shimba Hills Hall,KICC ,Nairobi . February 8, 2023. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

County Assemblies in Mt Kenya region are expected to start public participation on the 2023/24 Budget estimates after receiving proposals from the executives.

The budgets offer an insight into the plans of the county executives to implement their campaign promises as it will be the first Budget conceptualised since they took office in 2022.

In Nyeri County, Governor Mutahi Kahiga's administration has laid out ambitious plans to fund projects in Health, education, sports and lands.

The county's total estimated Budget is Sh7.9 billion, of which Sh5.5 billion is for recurrent expenditure and Sh2.4 billion for development projects for the 2023/24 financial year.

Nyeri County Gender, Youth and Sports Department is proposing spending some of its budgets on several items, including Sh4 million for the construction of a toilet at Ruringu Stadium and Sh1 million proposed for to purchase of coffins.

Buying coffins

According to Gender County Executive Member (CEM) Esther Ndungu, the county government included the proposal on coffins to cater to the most vulnerable families that could not afford the coffins or funeral expenses.

"These funds are for families too poor to afford mortuary fees or even decent coffins to bury their loved ones," she said.

Ms Ndungu said the county had set aside Sh500,000, but since Covid-19 hit, the number of people seeking assistance from the county to bury their loved ones had increased hence the need to increase the allocation to Sh1 million.

The Education Department has made adjustments to the initial proposals to have only Sh40 million for Elimu Fund and presented a proposal to set aside Sh100 million in bursaries for needy students.

The Budget also proposes Sh27.5 million for the construction of the governor's residence and Sh14.3 million for the purchase of a vehicle for his deputy.

The Health Department, which receives the highest allocation of the county Budget at Sh2.7 billion, also has the largest development Budget proposal at Sh 391 million.

Some of the projects to be undertaken by the County Health Department include the refurbishment of the Nyeri County Referral Paediatric ward at Sh8.5 million and Sh10 million for the completion of the emergency unit at Karatina Level 4 Hospital.

The county also proposes the installation of solar systems in the health facilities to reduce the power bills with an estimated Sh15 million for both Karatina and the County Referral Hospital.

The Gender Department has also proposed an allocation of Sh4 million to purchase iron sheets and nails for disaster victims.

County Public Service Department is proposing Sh6 million to design and install a digital clocking system for county staff, and Sh300,000 for car washing services for the garbage trucks owned by the county.

Dairy goats

The Agriculture Department presented a proposal to set aside Sh2.5 million for the purchase of goats in each ward and an additional Sh3.7 million for distribution to dairy goat groups.

The department also proposes Sh5.65 million to purchase indigenous (kienyeji) chicken for breeding.

Nyeri Energy Department is going to pay a hefty Sh105 million bill to Kenya Power for the Street lighting and high mast flood lights in the county.

Kirinyaga County executive under Governor Anne Waiguru has presented a Sh6.5 billion Budget estimate for the 2023/2024 financial year to the County Assembly, with at least Sh5.5 billion being set aside for recurrent spending, and Sh2.4 on development projects.

Some of the development projects proposed in the Kirinyaga Budget include Sh29 million for the Wezesha Kirinyaga Programme - empowerment for women and youth groups.

The county also proposes the establishment of a gender violence recovery centre at a cost of Sh5 million.

Kirinyaga has allocated Sh275 million in the proposed 2023/2024 budget for the development of Sagana Agro-Industrial Park, feasibility studies, branding and marketing.

Out of this amount, Sh 250 million is Kirinyaga County's conditional matching allocation in a 50/50 arrangement with the National Government which will also contribute Sh250 million as a grant. This allocation is applicable to all the counties for the establishment of County Aggregation and Industrial Parks (CAIPS) whose kickoff condition is the availability of a minimum of Sh500 million.

The Health Department has set aside development funds to upgrade Kimbimbi and Kianyaga Level Four Hospitals with each facility receiving Sh84 million if the Budget estimates sail through.

Kirinyaga MCAs have proposed Sh8 million towards physical training and assessments to boost their participation in the Kenya Inter-Counties Sports and Cultural Association (KICOSCA) games.

Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza's administration has drawn up a Budget of Sh11 billion for the 2023-2024 financial year as she works on priority projects in health which will get the largest share of the funds.

Kawira's Finance and Economic Planning Executive, Monica Kaithiori, submitted the estimates to the Assembly, with public participation expected to kick off.

According to the estimates, out of the Sh11 billion, development expenditure is pegged at Sh3.37 billion, while Sh7.8 is spent on recurrent expenditure.

The Meru Youth Development programme will have its Budget slashed from Sh40 million allocated in the 2022/23 supplementary Budget to Sh20 million.

Kawira's priority projects include water for domestic and irrigation purposes, where she plans to drill and equip more boreholes and construct water pans.

She has also emphasized improving health services through the provision of adequate drugs for all hospitals, in addition to equipping them.

The county boss is also keen to provide farm inputs and purchase live animals and improve the breeds to boost production.

Another key area is improving waste management, with the administration planning to purchase incinerators.

Recurrent expenditure

In Tharaka Nithi, Governor Muthomi Njuki is proposing Sh6.1 billion total Budget with Sh3.8 billion to be channelled towards recurrent expenditure.

Finance and Economic Planning Executive Lawrence Ireri said the executive was banking on various key development plans, including the creation of agricultural industrial zones, to achieve value addition for increased incomes for farmers and others.

Budget Committee Chairperson Godfrey Gaturo said they are focusing on completing ongoing roads, hospitals and agricultural projects.

The ward representative said they plan to pump Sh100 million towards establishing an agricultural industrial park, with the national government expected to give the devolved unit a grant of a similar amount.

"The idea is to do value addition of agricultural products," he said.

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