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William Ruto meets governors over ceiling on county budgets

By ROSELYNE OBALA | August 1st 2014

Kenya: Deputy President William Ruto Wednesday evening met with governors to iron out the contentious issue of budget ceiling for county assemblies set by the Commission for Revenue Authority (CRA).

Expenditure order has been at the centre of the current row between county assemblies and Controller of Budget Ms Agnes Odhiambo, who has declined to approve county budgets on grounds that they do not meet the constitutional threshold.

County assemblies have, however, stood their ground and declined to revise their budgets as advised by the Controller.

Also in attendance at yesterday's meeting were CRA Chairman Micah Cheserem and Ms Odhiambo as they sought to deliberate on the benchmark of allocation to assemblies.

Yesterday, Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony confirmed receiving invitation for the meeting with Ruto, also the Inter-governmental Budget and Economic Council chairman.

"We are meeting the DP today (Wednesday) at 5pm at Harambee Annex. The meeting aims at engaging various stakeholders in ending the tag of war between members of county assemblies and the county executive over the funds. This deadlock has negatively affected services in the counties," said Chepkwony.

Council of Governors Chairman Isaac Ruto also told The Standard that they hope the meeting will resolve the misunderstanding as a result of the ceiling on expenditure.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Billow Kerrow (Mandera), Beatrice Elachi (Majority Chief Whip) and Boni Khalwale (Kakamega) expressed disappointment at the manner in which the MCAs have been going on foreign trips at the expense of development.

"The ceiling will go a long way in instilling discipline in the assemblies. If the MCAs have any problem with CRA's recommendations, they should approach the Senate and not try to arm-twist governors into allocating them more funds," said Khalwale.

The three senators urged MCAs to concentrate on the oversight and legislative roles and not attempt to engage in the executive work through the ward development board.

The County Assembly Forum (CAF) has faulted the ceiling by CRA, a move that has been backed by the Senate, affirming that it is legal and sought to bring sanity in assemblies.

CAF had threatened to move to court, resulting in a negotiated settle, where assemblies will spend half of their budgets as they reach a consensus on the matter.

The chairman Abdi Nuh has warned that by dictating how much assemblies should spend, will starve them of resources to run their operations effectively as required by law.


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