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Counties failing on revenue collection and real growth

By The Standard | July 29th 2017

Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo's revelation that only eight of the 47 counties collected half of revenue targets set in the 2016-17 budget, is startling taxpayers. The budget implementation review report for the nine months to March 2017, indicates that of the Sh59.71 billion annual local revenue target, the devolved units managed a measly Sh24.7 billion.

This is even after governors went on an overzealous drive to come up with the most obscure waivers and levies that saw the National Treasury take up their right to create levies without consulting them.

Yet, the puzzling ineptitude from the devolved units is primarily hinged on their wanton wastefulness, which over the past year, has raised a nationwide hue and cry. And with all this wastage, the counties have not shied away from always extending a begging bowl to the national government for more allocations. The county governments can become self-reliant by simply sealing the many loopholes that allow leakage of funds.

The truth is most counties are still using archaic manual systems to collect revenue, which are susceptible to manipulation by corrupt bureaucrats. To begin with, county assemblies can seal the tax loopholes by passing the pending Finance bills, which deny them the legal instruments to collect money from income-generating ventures.

Counties should also set realistic revenue targets, based on their collection potential as they tighten tax collection systems. The governors should also be innovative and come up with money-making ventures.

Finally, after four years of devolution, Kenyans will go the polls on August 8 to elect new county chiefs including governors and Members of the County Assembly. Those elected should be visionary and selfless enough to achieve what Kenyans envisaged when drafting the 2010 Constitution.

Devolution was meant to devolve resources and governance to the grassroots. It was not meant to stifle real growth or line up the pockets of a few elected village leaders.

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