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City sheriff dwarfs Sonko with a huge Sh28 billion budget

THE STANDARD INSIDER
By Frankline Sunday | June 6th 2020
Nairobi Metropolitan Services Director General, Major General Mohamed Abdalla Badi. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

The government has allocated Sh28 billion for the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS), a move expected to insulate the unit from fights at City Hall.

NMS has already been placed under the Office of the President in an Executive Order issued by President Uhuru Kenyatta this week, a major turning point for East Africa’s largest economic hub.

According to the 2020/2021 Budget report tabled in Parliament on Thursday, the National Treasury has raised NMS Director-General Mohamed Badi’s allocation from Sh15.7 billion Governor Mike Sonko received this financial year. 

The money excludes expenditure on other functions that still remain under Sonko.

The Executive Order issued on Wednesday has been contested by several stakeholders, including the Judiciary, Law Society of Kenya and embattled Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko who initially declined to sign over the county to the National Government.

This pushes budget allocations to President Uhuru’s office from Sh6.4 billion originally allocated for the 2020/2021 financial year to Sh36.6 billion, more than budgets for the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Environment combined. 

The change of guard at the city county came on the back of increasing criticism on the part of Sonko who was accused of failing to deliver on the county’s development agenda due to poor governance. 

Nairobi consistently ranks highest among counties in the equitable share of revenue made from the Sh316 billion central government kitty. It is also the only county best positioned at achieving full budgetary autonomy.

According to Nairobi County’s budget for the 2019/2020 financial year, the county raised Sh15.4 billion from internally generated revenue, at par with what was received from the central government the previous year.

City Hall, however, reported Sh21 billion in recurrent expenditure and another Sh10 billion in development projects, leaving the county Sh300 million in the red.     

Next year, according to the report, NMS will get Sh18 billion for recurrent expenditure compared to Sh10 billion for development.

The latest report by the Auditor General on the county’s financial accounts for the year ended June 2018 gave an adverse opinion on the county’s books due to gaping discrepancies.

On the spot

The report stated that Nairobi County failed to provide a trial balance sheet to support official figures presented for audit, with the Auditor General raising several concerns about the accuracy.

“Payments totalling Sh200 million were made outside IFMIS during the 2017/2018 financial year,” stated the Auditor General’s report. “No reasons were given for paying outside the IFMIS system.” 

Nairobi County finance officials were also put on the spot for operating five different bank accounts contrary to the Public Finance Management (County Government) Regulations, 2015. 

“The NMS will be in charge of the functions that have been transferred to the National Government on behalf of the National Government,” said President Uhuru Kenyatta when unveiling the NMS and officials in March this year. “Their primary responsibility will be to ensure they deliver the services to the citizens of Nairobi.” 

While unveiling NMS and its officials in March, President Kenyatta said the NMS should make dismantling City Hall corruption cartels a priority.

Previous failed attempts by Sonko and his predecessor Evans Kidero to radically uplift the face of Nairobi have left the capital’s residents increasingly disillusioned.

Apart from the Sh28.4 billion allocated to the office directly, NMS will benefit from some of the Sh13 billion allocated under Urban and Metropolitan Development in the State Department of Housing. In addition to this, Nairobi’s biting housing shortage means the government will spend the bulk of the Sh15.9 bilion allocated for developing affordable housing. 

With this financial arsenal at its disposal and the goodwill of the central government, NMS is likely to succeed where previous administrations failed.

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