31 January 2014

Kenya: County Finance Bosses to Be Trained On Budgets

Nairobi — The government is now set to train County Treasury officials how to prepare their 2014/2015 budget estimates from next month.

Speaking during the Intergovernmental Budget and Economic Council Meeting on Friday, Deputy President William Ruto pointed out that the training to be undertaken by the Devolution Ministry will ensure that counties draw up budgets that are in line with the Constitution.

"The Ministry of Devolution has developed a framework that will begin the training of personnel in County Treasuries to assist County Governments in developing their budgets so that we eliminate the challenges that we had earlier of trying to get balanced budgets to ensure we are in tandem and consonance," he said.

The Deputy President said that the training will enhance the capacity of County Governments and help them be more efficient in their work.

"That process will begin from February 10. The notices have been sent to the County Governments and if they have not received, I am sure that they will get them in due course so that we can all participate in capacity building and training that will assist us better execute the mandates that have been assigned to the County Governments much more professionally," he stated.

He further called on the Senate to play its role by coming up with legislation that will assist counties in running their affairs.

The Deputy President explained that this is the only way to ensure that devolution succeeds as counties will be able to achieve their mandate.

"I want to call upon the Senate to take up their responsibility and work with us and with the County Government to develop a legal regime that will assist county governments achieve their mandate and drive devolution for the improvement of the quality of life and the transformation of our country," he stated.

National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich is in the meantime set to present the 2014 budget policy statement which will assist county governments in the management of their resources, to the Cabinet.

Speaking during the meeting, Rotich stated that the policy statement will address the challenges that county governments have been facing and improve the overall economy of the country.

"The 2014 Budget Policy Statement seeks to address some of the challenges that have been slowing down development such as the decline of productivity in agriculture, manufacturing and exports, access to water, quality education and health," he said.

He further emphasised that a close collaboration between the National and County governments is crucial if the objectives in the policy statement are to be achieved.

"The measures that are set out in the Budget Policy Statement will therefore focus in the creation of a conducive business environment, investment in agriculture sector by increasing land under irrigation, expanding food supply, reducing prices and supporting growth of agro processing," he said.

The Chairman of the Council of Governors Isaac Ruto who was also present emphasised the need for public participation in the budget making process within the counties.

According to Ruto, allowing Kenyans to offer their opinions, inputs and concerns as counties enact relevant pieces of legislation will enhance acceptance among citizens.

"We had much confusion earlier because we were not sure which figures we were going to use. We had a wide range of figures without knowing which figures to use. Indeed a lot of counties had a lot of challenges," he said.

He indicated that this will further address the current challenges where citizens feel certain counties are passing outrageous laws on taxation.

"Some passed their budgets but later on, it turned out that those budgets had huge deficits because they had used the wrong numbers for the purpose of division of revenue. We indeed took a long time to sort out that issue all the way top September. That was quite a long time and created a lot of challenges."

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