Kenya: Nakuru MCAs Approve Additional Sh478 Million to Combat COVID-19

Nakuru County Assembly has approved a supplementary budget submitted to the House by the Executive to combat coronavirus pandemic in the county by almost doubling the estimates.

The Executive had earlier proposed to set aside Sh250 million to deal with the pandemic but the assembly on Thursday approved a Sh478 million budget.

DEVELOPMENT KITTY

The Bill will now be forwarded to Governor Lee Kinyanjui for assent to give the executive permission to spend the money for the remaining two and half months.

The executive had planned to reallocate Sh400 million from the Sh1.5 billion ward development kitty to fund its second supplementary budget.

According to some MCAs, the executive had submitted a Sh1.2 billion supplementary budget for approval by the House but the 15-man budget committee slashed it to Sh478 million.

The supplementary budget is also intended to mitigate against invasion of desert locusts in the region.

The assembly reallocated resources within the current budget by cutting on non-essential expenditure and freezing a sizeable number of ongoing projects.

BUY VENTILATORS

For the first time since the advent of devolution, the assembly slashed non-essential expenditure such as sitting allowances and reallocated Sh30 million to purchase ventilators and beds at Nakuru Level Five Hospital.

Unlike in the past disasters like Solai Dam and Lake Nakuru helicopter crash where the funds were controlled by the executive, this time around the money will be managed at the ward level by emergency response committees.

The committees will comprise representatives from religious groups, the disabled, women, youth, ward administrator, assistant county commissioner all nominated MCAs and area MCA who will decide on how to spend the money.

The executive hard targeted to suspend about 180 development projects in all the 55 wards.

However, the MCAs argued that the ward development kitty was their lifeline and they should not be blamed for the poor revenue collection by the executive.

"These projects were approved during public participation and contracts awarded and it would be wrong for the executive to suspend them as they are aimed at improving the livelihoods and boosting food security for more than two million residents," said an MCA.

The approved projects are on water, roads, health, security lights, markets, agriculture equipment, construction of pre-primary education classes, social amenities, sanitation and environment among others.

The projects will now be undertaken as planned and approved in the 2019/2020 budget.

The assembly also allocated Sh311 million out of which Sh205 million will be used to purchase food for the vulnerable families in all the 55 wards.

Another Sh45 million will be shared among the most vulnerable families in 30 wards that have Internally Displaced Camps, jobless flower farm workers and slum dwellers.

FOOD RATIONS

The assembly allocated Sh30 million to be retained as a governor kitty to purchase food rations and additional Sh20million to county emergency fund while Sh10 million will mitigate against locust invasion in the region.

"The emergency funds should be utilised for the intended purposes and when we come back, we expect a detailed report how the funds were used," said Lake View Ward MCA Karanja Mburu who is also the chairperson of disaster committee.

"The executive should not use the Covid-19 pandemic crisis not to collect the revenue because that is its mandate," added Mr Mburu.

The Health department was allocated Sh150 million to purchase of non -pharmaceutical items, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), ventilators and drugs.

The funds will also be used for training health workers while Sh43 million will be used to recruit 210 health workers including 150 nurses, 30 clinical officers, 20 public health officers and 10 medical officers for a three-month contract.

The critical department has also been allocated Sh165 million to complete an outpatient complex at Nakuru Level Five Hospital.

STIPEND

The MCAs want volunteer community health workers to be paid a stipend and extend the payment of licences and other levies to June 30 without any penalties and interests.

To address rising insecurity in the county due to loss of livelihoods as a result of curfew and disruption of businesses, the assembly allocated Sh20 million towards installation of high-mast security lights across the county.

The 78-member House approved the funds on Thursday after a report of the supplementary budget was tabled in the House on Wednesday by the chairperson of Budget and Appropriation committee Joel Karuri Maina.

"The committee unanimously agreed that ward projects should be preserved to the end of financial year," said Mr Karuri who is also Biashara Ward Rep in Naivasha.

Mr Karuri clarified that the Sh800 million budget hole caused by coronavirus due to revenue collection underperformance will only affect subsequent budget.

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