Governors war with MCAs hurting development, CoB warns

Written By: Ronald Owili

PHOTO | File

The Controller of Budget is warning that the hostile relationship between County Assembly and County Executive is impeding development in the devolved units.

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Controller of Budget Dr Margaret Nyankang’o has noted in the County Governments Budget Implementation Review that in the first quarter of the FY 2020/2021 ending September, the confrontations between some governors and their respective county assemblies led to delays in approval of budget estimates which consequently led to late release of funds from the exchequer or no release at all.

Dr Nyakang’o lists seven counties which include Mandera, Uasin Gishu, Tana River, Kirinyaga, Nakuru, Wajir, and, Kitui where development has been affected due to persistent wrangles between the County Executive and County Assembly.

Kirinyaga County for instance which saw Governor Anne Waiguru lock horns with the Members of the County Assembly over budget implementation last year, did not spend a single cent on development between July and September, instead spent Kshs. 491.47 million entirely on salaries.

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Kshs. 484.66 million was spent on Compensation to Employees and Kshs. 6.81 million on Operations and Maintenance, CoB states.

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Kitui County on the other hand did not receive any exchequer issuance due to absence of operational budget while Mandera County did not report any expenditure.

“The stalemate in the approval of budgets was mainly due to frosty relationships between the County Executive and the County Assembly. This was also attributed to capacity challenges in the understanding of the roles of the two arms of government in the budget making process,” said Dr Nyakang’o.

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The Public Finance Management Act, 2012 stipulates that there shall be an Approved Budget and Appropriation Act by 30th June of each financial year.

However, in case of delays in enacting the County Appropriation Bill, the Act gives County Assembly powers to approve a Vote on Account which authorises the withdrawal of money from the County Revenue Fund for the purpose of meeting expenditure necessary to carry on the services of the County during the financial year until such a time when the relevant appropriation law is passed.

“We recommend that the Ministry of Devolution, and Semi-Arid Lands through the Intergovernmental Relations Technical Committee should come up with strategies to address the relationship issues between the County Executives and Assemblies and for continuous capacity building of County Governments on the role of the two arms of county government on the budget process,” she noted.

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In the current financial year, the 47 counties have an aggregate budget estimate amounting to Kshs. 436.15 billion out of which recurrent expenditure accounts for 63.5% or Kshs. 276.82 billion while development taking up Kshs. 159.33 billion which is equivalent to 36.5% of the total estimates.

The law requires that at least 30% is set aside for development purposes.

Due to the wrangles the OCoB excluded Kitui, Mandera and Wajir Counties in the estimates as they did not have an Approved Budget or a Vote on Account as of 30th September, 2020.

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