Nairobi MCAs root for Sh1.5 billion ward special account

Nairobi County Assembly. [Samson Wire, Standard]

Nairobi County MCAs are pushing for a Sh1.5 billion general-purpose account to specifically manage funds allocated for ward development projects.

The MCAs argue this is the only way to cure the slow implementation of projects by the executive in wards.

They want the general-purpose account to hold funds allocated to the 85 wards in the 2021/22 financial year.

Nairobi County Assembly Budget and Appropriations committee chairperson Robert Mbatia said if implemented, the funds will be transferred from the County Revenue Fund account to the general-purpose account.

He said if MCAs fail to utilise the funds because of unforeseen circumstances then the funds will remain in the account and be carried forward to the next financial year.

“The issue of Ward Development Fund (WDF) is the elephant in the room. This current financial year of 2020/21, no member in the 85 wards has managed to have their project kick-off. That is the anxiety at the assembly with the General Election just around the corner,” said Mr Mbatia.

“Let members be assured that there are discussions underway and the WDF is being taken as first priority. We are proposing and we are in the process of opening a general-purpose account for the funds for this financial year on development projects," he added.

Mbatia, the Kariobangi Ward MCA, said discussions had already commenced with the county Treasury and the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) to actualise the plan.

He exuded confidence that the account should be in place by end of the calendar year.

“The plan of the budget committee, county Treasury and NMS is that by the end of this calendar year we will have at least some funds in the general-purpose account,” he said.

Mbatia noted that MCAs will receive approximately Sh17 million each for development projects in their wards as part of the Sh39.6 billion annual budget for the financial year ending June 30, and they are pushing to have the funds deposited in the account.

Notably, WDF has previously been under the office of the governor but it was last year moved by the MCAs to NMS under the Directorate of Public Works.

The Nairobi County Fiscal Strategy Paper for the 2021/22 financial year- which was approved by the assembly- allocated Sh1.5 billion to the WDF.

The figure was a Sh200 million increment from the Sh1.3 billion that had been allocated for the ward-based projects in the current financial year that lapses in June.

This comes against the backdrop of a report by the office of the Controller of Budget (CoB) which raised the alarm over low implementation of development projects across the 47 counties.

According to the county government implementation review report for the first quarter of the 2020/21 financial year, only Sh2.3 billion was spent on development projects, representing a relatively low absorption rate of 1.4 per cent of cumulative annual development budget of Sh159.33 billion.