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Shutdown looms over counties revenue row

Council of Governors chair Wycliffe Oparanya has said county governments will make good their threat to shut down counties unless the impasse at the Senate over shareable revenue formulae is broken.

Oparanya yesterday appealed to the Senate to resolve the revenue dispute before the closure of counties is effected even as Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi lamented that his staff have not been paid for two months.

While presiding over the swearing-in ceremony of two county executive committee members at the county headquarters in Kakamega, Oparanya said several activities and functions have grounded to a halt due to lack of funds.

Threat is real

“Many think that the talk of shutdown is hot air. We are serious about it and unless something comes up in the next two weeks, we will be forced to do what we want.

“We call on governors to exercise some level of sobriety in handling the matter. The much-celebrated devolution will have no impact and basis if counties fail to offer health services.

“The devolution of health has helped residents and this is why we call on the Senate to find a workable formulae of sharing funds for services to continue,” Oparanya said.

Governor Kiraitu and his deputy Titus Ntuchiu warned senators not to politicise the matter. They appealed to county residents to understand if services are grounded.

“Our workers, including doctors and nurses, have not been paid and our vehicles have been grounded for two weeks.

“I support what our boss (Wycliffe) Oparanya has said. If they do not stop the game at the Senate and resolve the funds issue by September 17, we will ask workers to stay home, ground vehicles and shut down the county offices,” Kiraitu said when he opened Muuruta Dispensary in Athwana in Tigania East.

Oparanya asked senators to soften their stance and find the right way of sharing the money so as to cushion Kenyans from harsh economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. He stated that the row at the Senate has forced county governments to borrow money from banks to pay staff salaries from June to August. “Counties have pending bills and this must be addressed. There are several projects that we have put on hold as we are cashless,” Oparanya said.

But he expressed optimism that next week’s series of meetings will see the end of the Senate stalemate that has crippled operations in county governments.

“We are treated to all these wars in the Senate because public servants have failed to exercise integrity in their work. A lot of money is being lost at both the county and national government levels. There is need for accountability,” Oparanya said.

He also dared MCAs seeking to impeach him to make good their threats.

Oparanya said MCAs fighting him are out to besmirch his reputation. “The disgruntled MCAs should not allow themselves to be used. We know who is sponsoring them,” the governor claimed.

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