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Counties sit on trillions in assets, audit reveals

By Roselyne Obala and Protus Onyango | February 1st 2019

Counties have assets worth Sh3.6 trillion, some inherited from defunct local authorities, a State audit has found.

The devolved units also have liabilities worth Sh53.6 billion.

The figures were released by the Intergovernmental Relations Technical Committee (IGRTC) following the completion of a long-awaited audit on defunct local authorities.

The committee is chaired by former Education Principal Secretary Karega Mutahi.

The audit reveals that 62,342 parcels of land have so far been documented in all counties.

However, the counties are still grappling with more than Sh90 billion in pending bills. So far, 30 out of 47 counties have provided information on their pending bills.

This emerged as IGRTC’s sub-committee on assets and liabilities tabled its report before the Intergovernmental Budget and Economic Council (IBEC) that is chaired by Deputy President William Ruto.

The council brings together governors, Cabinet secretaries and various State officers.

The council also discussed county’s generation of own revenue and the status of the Own Source Revenue Policy approved by Cabinet and which is presently with the Government Printer.

Assets and Liabilities sub-committee chair, Billow Khalid, told the council that a technical committee had held meetings to discuss liquidation options of assets worth Sh53 billion.

Paying liabilities

“Liabilities arising from investments can be paid from income from housing among others,” said Dr Khalid.

He, however, pointed out that assets transferred from Government ministries to county governments needed to be validated.

Council of Governors (CoG) Chairman Governor Wycliffe Oparanya called for the adoption of the report to enable counties include identified assets in their fixed assets registers to avoid audit queries.

Controller of Budgets Agnes Odhiambo proposed that counties commit to budget for all authentic pending bills in their supplementary budget or in the next budget. She appealed to 17 counties that are yet to complete the audit on pending bills to do so within one month.

“The Auditor General and Treasury had impressed upon CoG on the urgency of verifying pending bills on December 15, 2018,” said Ms Odhiambo.

The vice chairman of CoG, Governor Mwangi Wa Iria, advised governors to pay the oldest bills first.

Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui lauded the effort to E-procurement and called for more trainings on the technology.

Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi protested that despite numerous advertisements, few people were applying for tenders because of growing perception that counties do not pay on time.

“We call for a commitment from Treasury on prompt release of funds to avoid unnecessary pending bills,” he said.

Treasury defended

The deputy president defended Treasury, saying delays in releasing funds to counties were not deliberate.

“Counties should appreciate that the country is in a situation where all have to live within their means,” said Ruto.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich informed the meeting that a Bill on Own Resource Revenue was before Parliament.

“The Bill is a critical component on how counties will be more independent in raising own revenues, “said the Cabinet secretary.

But governors recommended that the passage of the Bill be delayed until their input was included.

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