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Budget row sets Elgeyo Marakwet leaders in collision path

By Stephen Rutto | Mar 11th 2019 | 2 min read

Governor Alex Tolgos has blamed CRA for Elgeyo Marakwet's financial problems. [File, Standard]

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s revelation that a county assembly has been gobbling up nearly Sh600 million in a county with a Sh800 million development budget has put a governor and MCAs on a collision path.

The President made the revelation during the devolution conference last week in Kirinyaga County, but did not name his target county.

However, it has now emerged that the county that so irked the President is Elgeyo Marakwet.

The county’s governor Alex Tolgos gave credence to the President’s assertion and even proposed a reduction of the county assembly allocation.

Mr Tolgos said in a statement that it was imprudent and wasteful for the assembly to spend a huge amount of money on oversight while development projects are on the verge of stalling.

“The county Executive has already begun (fixing the budget discrepancy) by proposing the reduction of the County Assembly allocation by Sh120 million in the 2019-20 County Fiscal Strategy Paper (CFSP) already submitted to the Assembly,” Tolgos said in the statement.

He added: “There is no doubt that oversight is very important in the success of governance all over the world. [But] equally important are project implementation and service delivery operational costs.”

The governor recently complained that the county was broke due to inadequate funding from the national Treasury to smaller counties. This, he said, resulted from unfair allocation to smaller counties by the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA).

He vowed to lobby for more funds through CRA and the Senate.

County Budget Department explained that the county assembly got Sh566 million for operations and maintenance while the county executive remained with Sh837 million for development.

The county boss said from the Sh566 million allocated county assembly, Sh288 million caters for salaries for 99 staff including MCAs while the remainder—Sh278 million—is used for oversight.

“The county executive, which consists of 12 departments, has been allocated a total of Sh204 million shared across these departments,” Tolgos said, adding that the amount used for oversight was to blame for the slow pace of project implementation.

But members of the county assembly led by Soy South ward representative Jonah Tanui defended the assembly, saying it oversights the entire county budget of more than Sh5 billion.

Mr Tanui said apart from paying salaries for the entire county assembly staff, the Sh566 million allocation caters for fuel, car insurance and contractual services such as cleaning, among other services.

“Focusing on meagre county assembly budget will not help the executive get out of its financial woes,” he said.

But the executive vowed to ensure the assembly budget is slashed so it can get money for projects including street lighting, water supply, early childhood development and vocational training centres curriculum support, agricultural extension services and solid waste management.

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