Senator: Counties are underperforming because of treasury

By - Jan 1st 1970

Tabitha Mutinda Munene is a nominated senator and vice chairperson of the Senate budget committee. She spoke to Spice FM about why counties are underperforming and her nomination to the senate by the ruling party. Interview transcribed by Esther Dianah.

You are nominated to the senate by UDA, what attracted you to the party?

My interest was to be Nairobi’s Women's representative in the 2022 elections. As a new entrant into politics, I had to weigh, which party had accommodation for new members, so I settled for UDA. As we walked the journey, we did a seating and understanding on the table that we settled for candidates. So it was agreed that I get the senator's position, and also, I was assigned the command Centre for UDA which was in Westland.  From the command center, we did all the monitoring of all the different counties, but I was in charge of Nairobi County. From the center, we analyzed all narratives in different counties and how to actualize the bottom-up manifesto for the people to understand. Also, we managed the economic forums. From here we had results such as the hustler fund. After the elections, I was number eight on the UDA list.

Do you still carry out that function after being nominated to Senate?

No. it is usually a continuous process and engagement, only that it’s on a different platform. We are still engaging, but there are still a lot of questions in regard to the bottom up, and that is really what we talked about. So we are trying to communicate that this is what we meant.

You are the vice chair of the budget committee, what is your background before Senate?

I am an entrepreneur and I am in the manufacturing business I manufacture non-woven bags, and my main component is biodegradable bags. I have a master's in international business and currently doing my Ph.D. I have an agricultural bill, and my interest was in agriculture but I found myself in finance.

What is happening right now, when it comes to the allocation of resources to the counties?

I sit on the county investment committee as well, this committee looks at different funds from the county. The committees I sit in interrelate, in both committees, we’ve had the privileged of summoning the cabinet secretary and PS national treasury. We have asked about the timeline for the disbursement of funds in the last quarter, and the common feedback has been, by the 15th of April, the funds would have been disbursed, apparently, it has not happened, and it is really affecting counties.

It is really saddening, this is making counties go the extra mile and start borrowing to manage their bills. The CS has not accomplished the promise he had made. So far what has been disbursed for 2022-2023 was Sh183.15 billion, so there is an outstanding Sh125.8 billion that is yet to be disbursed to the counties, only 2 months to the end of the financial year.

When you summoned the CS, did you ask why there was a delay?

Yes, we asked and there was a response. The response was that they had prioritized the debt because without paying the debt then we don’t have an opportunity to borrow. In our deliberations w also had the opportunity to sit with CRA, the feedback we are waiting for from CRA is something we want to focus on, which is our own source of revenue. If counties collect more from their own source, then what government disburses should be a problem but rather an addition for them to do more.

Are you saying that the counties are collecting revenues below the assumed capacity?

There is more that they can collect but they are not collecting, I can only discuss what the auditor and CRA bring to the table as factual by saying that this is the amount and with statistical analysis. What we have been able to discuss is what they can able to collect, an amount that is able to make them sustain their expenditure. What is coming out, is that there is a bigger opportunity to collect more, but that is not happening.

When the CS says their priority is repayment of the debt, what do you push back with?

We have told the national treasury that they will not be one to kill devolution. With delayed disbursements, we have quite a number of challenges that pile up; delayed payment of supplies, delayed payment of expenditure, and many others. We also note that the national treasury is focusing on national government through ministries, like the Ministry of Agriculture, yet agriculture is a devolved function. Same case for health issues. The common question we also the treasury is why they are not doing timely disbursements. I cannot say there are no funds because the national government has been able to get their funds. Government staff, even us have received our salaries, so why not the county government? So we support that counties should receive their disbursements on time because that is where the people are.

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