Governors meet next week to plan Counties shut down

Kakamega County Governor Fernandes Barasa handing an international certificate to a revenue officer. [Courtesy]

Governors will meet next week to make a decision on planned Counties shut down after the government’s failure to release Sh94.4 billion.

Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa, who is also the Chairman of the Council of Governors Committee on Finance, Planning and Economic Affairs, said the National Treasury is yet to release the funds for March to May.

"As Council of Governors, we will be meeting next week to assess the possibility to shut down counties. The National Treasury has reneged on the promise for timely release of funds and ensures full absorption by counties," said Baraza.

The Governor spoke in Kakamega at a ceremony to fete County revenue officers for realizing enhanced collections in the last Financial Year

“The Council of Governors will meet next week to reassess the position of shutting down counties, following delays by the National Government to release the Equitable Share of Revenue,” Barasa said.

He said Counties cannot have arrears going up to around four months, with the present financial year almost closing.

“We have arrears for March totaling Sh29.4billion, April is Sh33.3billion and May is Sh31.45billion so our fall back becomes our own source revenue,” Barasa said.

He said that in the next one month we need to come up with a reliable and predictable method for timely release of funds.

“As the Finance chair at COG, I want to put on record that all the 47 counties have written to treasury to fast track release of all county arrears amounting to Sh94.6billion,” he said.

However, he explained that most counties have retreated to improving collection of own source revenue.

“Looking at the way we collect revenue, it appears like either our policies are not proportional enforced or there are deliberately created gaps that allow so many people to evade paying taxes,” he said.

In the one year to June 30 2022, Barasa said, counties collected Sh35.9 billion against a total set target of Sh60.4 billion representing 59.4 per cent.

He said Kakamega County collected Sh1.2 billion against the set target of Sh1.8 billion. Barasa said that the Counties higher target of Sh2 billion will be realized.

“The commission for revenue allocation has assessed counties own potential to stand at over Sh300 billion with Kakamega’s share being Sh5.8billion,” Barasa added.

During the ceremony, Barasa oversaw the distribution of working tools, uniforms, computers and other facilities to the revenue officers in Kakamega.

Mumias municipality was ranked the highest performer in collections. Mumias municipality senior revenue officer Jennifer Okutoyi urged Barasa to change the officers working terms.

“As your children we request you to review our terms as part time employees and consider us into the permanent and pensionable terms,” Okutoyi said.

The officer decried lack of security, bundles to use the automated revenue system, fuel and lack of transport.

“If you give me Sh2 billion in revenues this year then the request for permanent and pensionable terms will be considered,” Barasa said.

Barasa assured the officers of their security and improved environment to offer services.

“We have approved in cabinet deployment of county martial attached to revenue officers and the process begins immediately,” he said.

This is after a section of officers complained of being attacked by some taxpayers in their line of duty.

While using the automated revenue system, Barasa said the officers will be subjected to a monthly provision of bundles.

Own source revenue is derived from land rates, single business permits, parking fees, building permits and fees from billboards and advertisements.

Leading sources of revenue for counties include land rates, single business permits, parking fees, building permits and fees from billboards and advertisements.

Other streams are county housing rent, fines, penalties, and forfeitures, environment and conservancy administration fees and game reserve fees.

County governments can also impose charges for any services they provide in accordance with the stipulated laws.