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Nyanza counties rush to trim budgets

By Naftal Makori, Rushdie Oudia and James Omoro

Kisumu, Kenya: Three counties in Nyanza are struggling with downsizing their budgets ahead of the deadline issued by the Controller of Budget.

Kisumu, Nyamira and Homa Bay counties were given two weeks to fix their budgets or miss out on the Sh210 billion allocation.

It has also seen some governors shift the blame to other institutions within their counties as they plan to rework the budget. The move is likely to see some of the jobs advertised in counties done away with, in a bid to reduce the wage bill.

The Controller of Budget Ms Agnes Odhiambo’s wants Nyamira County’s budget slashed by over Sh1.4 billion to create a balance and thus comply with the demands.

Speaking to The Standard Tuesday, Governor John Nyagarama termed the figures released by the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) erroneous.

Bloated workforce

“The figures that CRA released are incorrect and our deficit is merely Sh1.4 million. Notwithstanding, we intend to adjust the budget,” said the governor.

He said the county would be forced to reduce monies that had been allocated for the construction of county and ward offices among other expenditure that can wait. At least Sh100 million had been allocated for the purpose.

Nyagarama said the county would only make crucial appointments to avoid a bloated workforce. “The county expected to solicit for grants from development partners to fill the Sh1.4 billion deficit but given that no grant has been confirmed, it is now necessary to review,” he said.

In Kisumu County, Governor Jackton Ranguma’s government is planning to come up with a supplementary budget to cover the Sh2.2 million deficit in its rejected budget.

Tuesday, Ranguma said they would come up with a budget that will realign to what is lawful.

Ranguma said his budget was balanced and instead shifted part of the blame to the County Assembly for adding some fund allocations without reducing others.

The governor however said he supported the County Assembly members’ demand for car loans. He would stop short, however, of granting equal amounts to those of the Members of the National Assembly.  

Homa Bay County Assembly Majority Leader Michael Owino Ooro blamed the Budget Controller for failure let the counties know of the conditions before the budgets were prepared.

Ooro said the conditions should be lifted to enable county governments start their development programmes in time.

He said Homa Bay County has a deficit of Sh430 million which he was sure could be raised through revenue and other sources. “I’m objecting the move because the deficits should be left as challenges to enable the affected counties to think of alternative sources of income,” Ooro said.

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