Counties demand Sh29.5 billion to implement doctors CBA, equip hospitals

Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO) stage their weekly demos along Parliament Road Nairobi on May 7, 2024. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The county governments want an extra Sh29.5 billion from the exchequer to address striking doctors' grievances, procure and maintain medical equipment, and cover levies in the health sector.

The Council of Governors (CoG) said Sh5 billion would be for implementation of the contentious Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) doctors signed with the Ministry of Health in 2017.

The CoG budget committee chair Fernades Barasa, told an economic conference in Pride Paradise Hotel, Mombasa that Sh20 billion was for procurement and maintenance of health equipment.

“We require Sh5.8 billion to implement the CBA. We are also taking on board medical equipment services, which will require Sh20 billion for procurement and servicing,” he said.

One of the contentious issues in the CBA is the pay for intern doctors. Doctors have been on strike for the last 56 days demanding full implementation of the CBA.

The CBA states that the lowest-paid doctor (intern) earns about Sh212,000, inclusive of all allowances every month.

According to the CBA doctors signed with the Ministry of Health on June 30, 2017 and county governments on July 6, 2017, the highest-paid consultants are supposed to earn Sh814,000.

Kakamega Governor Barasa, also took issue with the proposal to increase the Health budget to Sh100 billion, despite 95 per cent of the function being devolved.

“Even Agriculture is 95 per cent devolved and counties should be the ones to purchase fertiliser instead of the national government. We are saying in the 2024/25 budget, Parliament must be realistic,” he said.

CoG admitted that counties could not assist families displaced by floods because of lack of funds.

He asked the national government to be realistic in the allocation of funds to counties to enable effectively deliver services to the people

National Assembly Budget Committee chairman Ndindi Nyoro said there were negotiations over the allocation to the counties, adding that “it is true that the devolved units should get more resources.”

The National Assembly has proposed Sh391 billion for the counties in the next financial year, 2024/25, an increase of 5.5 per cent from the current Sh385.4 billion.

Kiharu MP Nyoro revealed that the committee has cut the proposed budget of Sh3.9 trillion by Sh300 billion, reducing the country’s deficit by 2.2 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“The next budget will put more resources where most Kenyans are. The big share will go to education and agriculture. We are also seriously considering the amount the counties are asking for,” he said.

He said Sh730 billion will go to development, at least Sh391 billion to shareable revenue, and Sh1.1 trillion to the Consolidated Funds Service.

“The CFS is a non-negotiable item as this takes care of interests of local and foreign debts and pensions. What we can reduce is the development budget,” said Nyoro.

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