Governor Wycliffe Oparanya who was the minister for Planning during the 2009 census. [File, Standard]

The figures used to calculate allocations to counties will come under greater scrutiny after findings that three counties with inflated population got Sh15 billion more than their rightful share.

Flawed 2009 census figures irregularly increased the population of Garissa, Mandera and Wajir counties by 708,777, which means the three regions have cumulatively received Sh14.6 billion over the past five years since population is a factor in the allocations.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) has revised the population figures, according to a report tabled in the National Assembly last month.

Court battles

The matter has been a subject of court battles, blocking bureau and the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) from reviewing the allocation to rectify the manipulation of the population data in 2009.

The Ministry of Planning census under the then minister, Wycliffe Oparanya, documented that Garissa, Mandera and Wajir collectively inflated their populations by nearly 31 per cent.

Since 2013, their cumulative allocation of Sh105.4 billion, including the next budget, was disproportionately bigger than the deserved amount, going by the two formulas used to determine the share.

With a restatement of the number of people, the three would see their equitable share of revenues slashed by 13.8 per cent in corrections that would have sweeping implications for budgeting.

Turkana will, however, receive a boost, being the only county whose population size went up by almost a quarter after revision.

KNBS confirmed the revisions on population data in its basic report for 2015/2016 Kenya Integrated Household Budget Survey (KIHBS), whose implementation was quashed by the April 2016 court ruling.

The report’s projections based on population distribution by sex, residence and county sought to remedy one of the biggest controversies that arose from the last census ? the population growth rates in the Muslim-dominated northern counties.

Mandera’s population of 1,025,756 reduced to 711,000, Wajir’s 661,941 reduced by 202,961 and Garissa also reduced by 191,060 from 623,060. The reduction of the figures was informed by findings of a survey in 2016.

“The average household size in the rural areas was higher at 4.5 members compared to 3.3 members in urban areas. Wajir, Mandera and Garissa counties recorded high household sizes of 6.6, 6.4 and 5.5 members, respectively,” reads the KNBS report released in March 2018 and tabled in the National Assembly the same month.

It continued: “Smaller household sizes were registered in Nyeri, Nairobi and Mombasa counties.”

On the other hand, Turkana has been losing funds as its population then stood at 1,084,000, yet the current allocation is based on 885,399 persons.

According to CRA, population accounts for 45 per cent in terms of sharable formula, giving these counties an edge over the 44 others.

Lion’s share

Mandera, for instance, is expected to get Sh10.1 billion in the next financial year and has maintained the top five list of counties getting the lion’s share annually.

Leaders from the region have maintained the allocation is deserved, arguing that the region has been maginalised since independence.

“For the five years, nothing will happen to these counties until the next census is done next year. We have gone to court three times but blocked from using the projections,” explained Linet Nyaboke, CRA’s director of research and policy.

She added: “We noted the errors were not normal with the demographic trends. KNBS sought to nullify the census for the three counties, sparking off a tedious court process.”

Despite the court acknowledging that it was within the mandate of KNBS to review the figures as affirmed by Parliament, the projections remained a subject of contest in court.  In CRA’s calculations, Mandera has received a billion shillings more than its deserved allocation every year.

The Senate Minority Whip, who is also a member of the Finance and Budget Committee, Mutula Kilonzo Jnr, last week tabled a report on the County Allocation of Revenue Bill, 2018, spelling out the Sh314 equitable share to counties. He said the true status would be determined in the upcoming census.

The National Treasury has sought parliamentary approval for Sh48 billion for the census.

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