Kenya: We've No 'Idle' Cash to Spend, Say Governors

18 January 2021

Governors have termed as dishonest a proposal by the National Treasury that counties turn to idle cash in their accounts to run services in the devolved units, saying there are no such funds.

Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya in a statement said the suggestion by Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani was only meant to hoodwink the public that the county bosses had enough cash reserves to run the devolved units.

"The balances that the Cabinet Secretary referred to in his statement are monies already committed for ongoing and unfinished projects within the counties. Once the projects are completed, all the Sh34.6 billion County Revenue Funds balances shall be paid out," Mr Oparanya said.

He went on: "There is, therefore, no 'idle' monies lying in the County Revenue Fund Accounts at the Central Bank because all these are monies already committed to the projects awaiting to be paid out."

Mr Oparanya said the county governments risked grinding to a halt, with a number staring at a looming cash crisis that could cripple the provision of life-saving services.

The Kakamega governor said counties had not received their total equitable share from the national government for the year 2020/21.

Sh93.9 billion

"The total amount of equitable share transferred to county governments by the National Treasury for the FY 2020/2021 is Sh93.9 billion, and does not in any way cover the entire monies owed for the four months of October, November, December and now January," said Mr Oparanya.

He went on: "In addition to the resources owed to all counties there are other seven counties which are owed for the month of September and October. The total outstanding amount for all the 47 Counties amounts to Sh89.6 billion."

Mr Yatani had on Friday last week asked governors to spend the Sh34.6 billion lying in Central Bank accounts as the government looks for ways of disbursing the delayed revenue.

The CS said the money can be spent since the devolved units "will get more resources soon", adding that counties should not feel constrained when there is cash in their accounts.

"Use it as we make arrangements to disburse more. Even if the money has been earmarked for projects, counties can spend it on priority basis and use future disbursements to fund ongoing projects," he said.

Governors, in September last year, threatened to shut hospitals and send staff home in efforts to push the Senate to pass the law guiding the sharing of revenue.

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