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Delayed funding for counties slows Devolution

COUNTIES
By The Standard Team | April 9th 2021
Embu Governor and Council of Governors chairperson Governor Martin Wambora. [File, Standard]

As counties marvel at the transmutation of social economics, questions have been raised on the sustainability of devolution if the financial hiccups witnessed in the past few years are anything to go by.

Last week, Martin Wambora, the chair of the Council of Governors, complained of the delay in disbursement of funds to counties.

He said counties have not received Sh52 billion for January and February, and this has paralysed most functions and services in the devolved units.

He said another Sh4.2 billion is owed to six counties for November, and an additional Sh10.1 billion is owed to 18 counties for December.

Almost every financial year, counties cry about the late disbursement of funds that cripple services at the grassroots and affect the development agenda.

County bosses who spoke to Standard Digital painted a worrisome picture of the status of devolution a year before the country goes to another election.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Amb. Ukur Yattani. [File, Standard]

Governors Mwangi wa Iria (Murang’a) and Ndiritu Muriithi (Laikipia) said there is a need for timelines in the disbursement of the resources so service delivery in counties is not affected.

Iria described Treasury as “extremely insensitive” to deny counties money for four consecutive months.

“The counties received disbursement in December last year and the county has struggled to acquire loans from commercial banks to pay staff salaries,” said Iria, adding that other activities, including those in the health sector, have stalled.

Governor Cyprian Awiti said it is a setback in the implementation of development projects.

Kericho's Paul Chepkwony said they have resorted to ingenious ways to remain afloat.

"We are relying on the revenue we collect to bridge the gap when the national government delays in disbursing money," Chepkwony said.

The Treasury last released money to the counties on January 20 after governors threatened to shut down services because of the prolonged delays by the National Government.

Treasury CS Ukur Yatani clarified that the Covid-19 pandemic had adversely affected revenue collection by Kenya Revenue Authority. 

BLAME GAME

The Treasury and CoG have been at loggerheads for a long time, with the two sides trading blame over the delays in releasing funds.

Governors have in the past accused the Treasury and National Government officials of deliberate misinformation on the delayed disbursement of funds.

In December 2019, CoG moved to court to challenge Treasury's decision to block funding for 17 counties, which had not cleared their bills and had not submitted a structured plan for doing so.

In October last year, they moved to court again to compel the Treasury to release 50 per cent of the equitable allocation. 

[Kennedy Gachuhi, Nikko Tanui, James Omoro, Anne Atieno and Lydiah Nyawira]

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