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Counties development spending drops - report

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 Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang'o addresses the press at Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital after touring various projects undertaken by Kisii County Government on September 15, 2022. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

Counties' spending on development dropped to Sh98.5 billion in the 2021-2022 Financial Year, according to a Controller of Budget (CoB) report.

In the 2020-2021 Financial Year, counties spent Sh116 billion on development.

The expenditure in the 2021-2022 Financial Year on development reflected a 50.9 per cent absorption rate of the Sh193 billion earmarked by counties during the year, which decreased from 62.1 per cent reported in the previous year.

However, while the spending on development dropped marginally, operations and maintenance expenditure increased from Sh105.9 billion to Sh112.4 billion in the 2021-22 financial year.

The spending on salaries and allowances also rose to Sh190 billion from Sh176 billion in the 2020-21 Financial Year.

Seventeen counties recorded a below 50 per cent absorption rate of development expenditure. They are Laikipia, Kisii, Bungoma, Baringo, Murang'a, Nyandarua, Turkana, Mombasa, Kilifi, Busia, Vihiga, Narok, Taita Taveta, Machakos, Kisumu, Nairobi and Garissa.

Garissa reported an expenditure of Sh978 million on development, representing the lowest absorption rate at 29.3 per cent.

A similar case was reported for Nairobi, which spent Sh3 billion.

"The Controller of Budget recommends that these 17 county governments develop and implement strategies to enhance the utilisation of funds allocated for development activities in the coming financial year," the report noted.

The report indicated four counties met the annual revenue target. They are Turkana at 113.5 per cent, Migori County at 110.5 per cent, Lamu at 105.5 per cent and Vihiga at 101.6 per cent.

Eight counties - Busia, Murang'a, Garissa, Kajiado, Embu, Kitui, Nairobi City, Nyandarua and Bungoma - recorded below 50 per cent performance. During the period under review, the Controller of Budget noted that the pending bills soared to Sh153 billion. This was a significant increase from Sh96 billion reported in the 2020-21 financial year.

Nairobi City County accounted for 64.74 per cent of the pending bills at Sh99 billion. This was a 43 per cent increase from Sh56 billion reported in the 2020-21 financial year.

The report further shows the county received Sh26 billion, or 68 per cent of the Sh39 billion, from the Exchequer.

Compared to the 2020-21 financial year, the county received Sh30.6 billion, 80 per cent of Sh37.9 billion budget.

Other counties with a high level of pending bills are Mombasa at Sh5.23 billion and Kiambu at Sh5.87 billion.

Like in the 2020-21 Financial Year, Mandera did not report any pending bills.

Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang'o noted that some counties reported a higher expenditure than the approved Exchequer issues after they spent funds at source contrary to the law.

"This indicates a weak budgetary control by county treasuries and possible use of revenue at the source," Dr Nyakang'o noted.

She said this weakness was observed in Baringo, Homa Bay, Isiolo, Kilifi, Kitui, Kwale, Laikipia, Marsabit, Mombasa, Nairobi City, Siaya, Tana River, Tharaka Nithi, Vihiga, and Wajir counties.

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