Taita Taveta Governor John Mruttu and MCAs end budget stand-off

Taita Taveta Governor John Mruttu

The stand-off between the Taita Taveta county executive and members of the county assembly (MCAs) over the 2015-2016 budget has been resolved after the assembly agreed to amend the disputed fiscal estimates.

Governor John Mruttu agreed to sign the budget after earlier resistance, following intense negotiations which oblige MCAs to amend the budget to address the governor's concerns over Sh291 million, which the assembly hived from the Executive to the Ward Development Fund.

Reports show that the governor and the MCAs agreed to unlock the deadlock to avert a shutdown of the county government due to lack of money. On Wednesday MCAs unanimously approved the Taita Taveta County Supplementary Appropriation Bill, 2015 to sanction for public expenditure for the year ending on the June 30, 2016 on the basis of the estimates of expenditure in this financial year.

Following the passage of the bill, which was assented into law by Mr Mruttu, Treasury can now release over Sh3.9 billion for recurrent and development expenditure to the county administration. The Act will provide for the sharing of county revenue raised and shared nationally and locally collected revenues for the purpose of wages and administrative costs for the executive and county assembly.

It will also facilitate the transfer of funds in this Act from the county revenue fund to county recurrent and development accounts.

County Assembly Budget and Appropriation Committee Chairman Arresmus Mwarabu introduced the appropriation bill in the house, which sailed through following successful consultative meetings between the executive and MCAs.

The passing of the bill comes barely two months after the governor threatened not to sanction the fiscal plan after MCAs slashed the executives vote for the devolved units.

Mruttu termed the decision of the MCAs to reallocate more than Sh291 million from the executive to the Ward Development Fund as mischievous and out to cripple operations of his office.

Earlier, the MCAs refused to review the memorandum on the recommendations by the county assembly on the budget estimates presented Finance Executive Member Vincent Masawi.

"It is not logical at all for the MCAs to interfere with the executive budget as this will compromise the operations of the government. The slashing of the executive budget will not only have negative effects on the salaries, employment and promotion of workers, but also service delivery to the electorate," said Mruttu in an earlier interview.

An agreement reached by the two parties and seen by The Standard said a review of the budget will be done to ensure that it is balanced.

Mr Mwarabu said they had agreed with the executive to pass the bill with amendments for the benefit of the electorate.

"Amendments were done on the budget estimates and the governor has agreed to assent the bill into law," the Mwatate ward representative told speaker Meshack Maghanga.

smooth operation

Mwarabu said the two arms of government had agreed to continue working together for the smooth operation of the county affairs.

"We have agreed to constantly meet and create space for discussions. We have also agreed to give dialogue a chance in order to find a common ground to the contentious issue. If the two parties had remained adamant over the issue, workers would have sued the county administration for non-payment of salaries," he said.

"We have agreed that on-going development projects must be completed. Salaries for casual and permanent workers must be captured in the budget," Mruttu said.

He said they also agreed to analyse the budget further to achieve a harmonised supplementary budget, thus allowing the county administration access development budget within a month.

The Standard
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