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Counties' cash should not lie idle at Central Bank

EDITORIAL
By Editorial | February 5th 2021

In the past few months, governors have been putting pressure on the National Treasury to release county funds.

On January 12, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, then Council of Governors chairman, even accused the national government of planning to kill devolution by starving the counties of cash.

"We are facing a lot of financial challenges because we do not have money. Contractors and suppliers are on our necks demanding their payments, yet we are unable to pay them," he complained. Then the National Treasury owed counties Sh70 billion.

A week later, Treasury disbursed Sh24.6 billion to the devolved units.

Surprisingly, even as the county governments continue to complain about being deprived of cash, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani has revealed that some counties have not utilised funds disbursed to them.

This, Mr Yatani says, has led to accumulation of over Sh30 billion in various accounts at the Central Bank.
It is unacceptable for such a huge amount to lie unspent while some suppliers have not been paid, and projects are yet to be completed. In fact, it would be dishonest for county governments, that have money lying idle in CBK accounts, to ask for more money.

Governors should explain why this money has not been absorbed. It's important that they direct the cash to the intended purpose without delay.

That said, National Treasury must also pull up its socks. It must ensure that devolved units' equitable share is released on time going forward to avoid the kind of suffering that has been witnessed, which has seen county workers going for months without pay and crucial services such as health paralysed.

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