13 November 2012

Kenya: Civil Society Blocked Sh3 Billion County Funding

THE Treasury was ready to allocate some Sh3 billion to help in putting up county physical structures like offices but was forced to pull back after civil societies raised an objection on grounds that this was outside of its mandate.

While revealing this, Finance Minister Njeru Githae yesterday regretted that the Treasury was only trying to help facilitate the implementation of the new county governments but its intentions were mistaken.

"We were not trying to micro-manage the counties," said Githae while opening the public sector hearings on the 2013/14 budget. The minister however assured that all counties will have a running county account come the 5th of March 2013 after the results of the general elections are announced.

This means that counties will have a a place to withdraw cash to fund their operations like staff costs and general administrative expenses.

The 2012\2013 budget has allocated Sh85.2 billion for recurrent expenditures for counties and Sh80.4 billion for development expenditures.

These amounts are however in ministerial accounts and ministries are expected to pass over the cash once the county accounts are operational.

Githae said the county accounts, which will initially be manned by finance personnel seconded from the Treasury, will have allocations to run county functions for four months on March, April, May and June. "What am not sure about is the offices," the minister said.

Githae also announced that the Treasury will create a devolution department to track progress made by ministries in sharing the required amounts to counties. Already, the minister observed, two ministries that have had their functions devolved have resisted to allocate cash to counties.

The minister further said that new laws to tame the powers of governors will be introduced to prevent unnecessary spending. For instance, it is envisioned that counties will spend 30 per cent of their allocations on development expenditures. Additionally, personnel costs in counties will not be more than 25 per cent of allocated funds.

Earlier the Commission on Revenue Allocation chairman Mika Cheserem warned that failure to fund the counties from day one will be disastrous.

"You don't fly a plane without fuel," Cheserem said calling on Parliament to pass the Division of Revenue Bill which deals with sharing of revenues between the national and county governments and the County Allocation of Revenue Bill which relates to the sharing of revenue among the counties.

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