Kenya: Governors Say Plan to Shut Down Counties Still On Course

16 September 2020

Governors say there is no turning back on their plan to shut down counties tomorrow due to a biting cash crunch.

Council of Governors Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya said Tuesday the 47 devolved units are suffering and the only way to end their pain is for the National Treasury to release funds for running operations.

"The plan to shut down counties tomorrow (September 17) is on. Our bare minimum is that counties get at least 50 per cent of the shareable revenue as advised by the Supreme Court, or at the very least, the release of the full allocations for the months of July, August and September," Mr Oparanya told the Nation.

"If nothing happens, then we will have no choice but to shut down counties and no service shall be offered." The Kakamega governor blamed the Senate for what he said was making a bad situation worse.

"These people are not serious. In fact, this Senate should just be dissolved. We asked them to pass the County Allocation Revenue Bill so we can get the money as they continue the debate on the revenue sharing formula. But they have tied everything to this formula, and it is the counties that are now suffering," Mr Oparanya said.

No pay for workers

Currently, county staff, including frontline health workers, have not been paid for three months, the governor said.

In Murang'a, the county has not paid staff salaries, with Governor Mwangi Wa Iria terming the revenue standoff in the Senate as an affront to devolution.

"We are faced with a situation whereby paying salaries for our casuals is greatly compromised. These are our workers who live from hand to mouth and denying them salaries for three months is simply painful and I would wish these senators realised the pain they are inflicting on many families," he said.

Meru government has also not paid its staff their August salaries. In a memo dated September 8, County Secretary Rufus Miriti informed the staff that there would be delays in payment of salaries due to the ongoing revenue stalemate at the Senate.

He said the county executive will be meeting tomorrow to decide on the shutdown. "We will have to decide whether to continue keeping workers in offices without money or send them home. The situation is dire," Mr Miriti said. In Nandi, Governor Stephen Sang's administration is seeking the nod of the county assembly to borrow Sh350 million to pay salaries.

According to Finance Director Hellen Kemboi, the short-term borrowing is to mitigate cash flow challenges facing the county Treasury.

In Bungoma, Governor Wycliffe Wangamati Tuesday warned that they will be forced to suspend some projects due to lack of funds. In Elgeyo-Marakwet, service delivery in key departments, including health and transport, are the worst hit, derailing projects and slowing down the fight against Covid-19 pandemic.

Projects stalled

In West Pokot, Governor John Lonyangapuo said the cash crisis has crippled development projects and service delivery in almost all departments.

Homa Bay is also among counties that will shut down if the government fails to disburse money for paying workers' salaries.

In Busia, the county government will not be able to pay workers their October salaries if the Senate fails to resolve the revenue formula impasse.

In Kisii, delayed disbursement of funds has affected operations. In Kisumu, Director of Communication at the governor's office Aloice Ager said the county is on its knees. The situation is not different in Baringo County, where Finance Executive Richard Rotich raised concern that the cash crisis has crippled operations.

In Mombasa, assembly Speaker Aharub Khatri urged the Senate to resolve the impasse.

Reported by Patrick Langat, David Muchui, Jacob Walter, Mwangi Muiruri, Manase Otsialo, Onyango K'Onyango, Barnabas Bii, Wycliff Kipsang, Tom Matoke, Oscar Kakai, Florah Koech, Evans Kipkura, Brian Ojamaa, Elizabeth Ojina, Benson Amadala, George Odiwuor, Winnie Atieno, Victor Raballa, Ruth Mbula, Dickens Wasonga and Derrick Luvega

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