27 August 2014

Kenya: We Have No Cash to Pay Salaries, Says Governors

Photo: Capital FM
August salaries for public county workers may delay (file photo).

GOVERNORS have raised the alarm, saying that services could grind to a halt in the counties because of the delayed disbursement of funds for the current financial year.

The county chiefs issued the warning as patients continued to die in Mombasa and Homa Bay after doctors in public hospitals continued their strikes over unpaid salaries.

Council of Governors' Chairman Isaac Rutto said that, for two months now, the counties have faced financial difficulties, forcing some to resort to borrowing from commercial banks to finance recurrent expenditure.

"No money for this financial year has reached any county," the vocal Bomet Governor announced yesterday. "The counties are faced with the challenge of raising salaries for the month of August with only three days to the last day of the month. We are raising these issues so that Kenyans are not caught by surprise."

Speaking at the council's offices in Nairobi, Rutto maintained that basic services such as water and electricity have been disconnected in some counties and suppliers of some essential services are also pulling out.

The looming cash crunch could force workers to down their tools, taking the cue from doctors whose strike has caused misery to members of the public, especially at the Coast.

About 10 patients have died at the Coast General Hospital and another two are reported to have succumbed in Homa Bay as doctors stayed away. According to Rutto, the national government has not released the Sh226 billion set aside for the counties in the 2014/15 financial year.

The National Assembly approved the County Allocation of Revenue Bill, which sets the disbursements to the counties, on Tuesday last week. However, the Bill, which had already been passed by the Senate, takes effect seven days after being signed into law by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Rutto said Governors are working round-the-clock to pay county workers, but maintained that "they cannot make an undertaking that there will be salaries".

"The CoG would like to make it very clear to the public that the challenge in paying salaries and meeting other operating costs at the county is due to this lack of funds. The counties have been without funds since mid-June," he emphasised.

According to Rutto, by now the national government is supposed to have transferred 24 per cent of all funds allocated to each county, about Sh54.24 billion.

The Governor said the flow of county money into the County Revenue Fund needs to be managed in such a manner that it is received at least seven clear working days before the end of the month.

He said that they will engage the Senate and the National Assembly to break the cycle of financial crises at the beginning of a new financial year.

"We will be seeking to amend the Public Finance Management Act to provide for smooth transition from one financial year to the other, with regard to payment of staff salaries in the counties," he said.

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