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Why counties need to access funds on time

OPINION
By Charles Kibiru | June 13th 2021

The Council of Governors led by Chairman Martin Wambora during a press conference on the pertinent issues affecting devolution in Kenya.[Wilberforce Okwiri,Standard]

For nearly a decade since devolution kicked in, many lessons have accrued.

It is now prudent to take stock. While the gains of devolved governance cannot be gainsaid, there is a major bottleneck that has serially stifled the manner in which counties have rolled out their programmes – the release of funds from the National Treasury.

In recent years, we have witnessed occasions when county chiefs have protested the delay of release of funds, itself an embarrassing situation.

Moving forward, it is important to find a lasting solution to the conundrum of delayed resources. This can only happen through legislation to correct the anomaly.

In my opinion, the remedy lies in ensuring that resources allocated to devolved units are secured in a central account and automatically released to counties at scheduled intervals. The wisdom of releasing funds to counties in a timely manner portends many benefits.

Let us consider just three. One, when funds to counties are released in a predictable cycle, development planning will dramatically change. County governance will be empowered to commit plans and programmes whose execution will assume a more certain path.

However, that is not to say counties should not redouble their efforts in raising own income through levies and fees. 

Still on the same, it is time for an independent evaluation of how much each county can rake in. This will make revenue collection at the county level, a parameter of performance and kill the begging bowl mentality.

Two, when cash flow is regular, timely and determinable, it will empower local trade and encourage production. As counties flourish economically, so does the whole nation.

Three timed release of funds to counties will offer the best reason to demand a report card on every planned project. The 47 counties should be powerhouses of national transformation. I also believe that unless an audit of what is of foremost priority with regard to development in each county is done, we may not change the destiny of our people equitably.

This view buttresses the need for funding to counties that is pragmatic and consistent. In a nutshell, we shall change our national fortunes faster by adhering to timely release of funds to our devolved units. 

The writer is Kirinyaga Senator and chairs the Standing Committee on Tourism, Trade and Industrialisation.

 

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