Curb spending excesses, Uhuru tells counties

March 31, 2016
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President Kenyatta said it was regrettable that the focus of county governments appeared to be on, “palaces” and “fleets of vehicles” rather than on uplifting the condition of their constituents/PSCU
President Kenyatta said it was regrettable that the focus of county governments appeared to be on, “palaces” and “fleets of vehicles” rather than on uplifting the condition of their constituents/PSCU
NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 31 – In his State of The Nation address on Thursday, President Uhuru Kenyatta called out county governments for getting their priorities wrong.

President Kenyatta said it was regrettable that the focus of county governments appeared to be on, “palaces” and “fleets of vehicles” rather than on uplifting the condition of their constituents.

Members of the House were vocal in their agreement with President Kenyatta and responded in the negative when he asked them if their county governments had delivered on their mandate of providing basic services such as safe drinking water – a constitutional right.

“A significant proportion of the funds transferred to the devolved units have not met the expectations of the Kenyan people. You must ask does the Sh1 trillion sent to county governments reflect in what you see? Is there clean drinking water and proper sanitation? Efficient garbage collection? Medicines in hospitals? And agricultural extension workers visiting your farms? Kenyans must remember that these funds come from their hard earned taxes.”

And so as the Council of Governors clamours for more money and power, President Kenyatta said it was imperative for them to account for the monies already received.

The Coalition for Reforms and Democracy for instance, wants the minimum allocation to the 47 counties raised from the current 15 to 40 percent of the country’s annual revenue projections.

But unless the county governments got their priorities right, President Kenyatta said, more money would not make much of a difference except perhaps lead to “wastefulness” on a grander scale.

Previously, the county governments have blamed the Treasury for the shortage of medicines in county managed health facilities or for delays in the payment of county workers.

They have also demanded the handover of all their functions and attendant financing following the expiry of the Transitional Authority’s mandate.

READ: Governors oppose extension of Transition Authority’s term

In his year three progress report on devolution, President Kenyatta said county governments would receive Sh1 trillion in the 2016/17 financial year. “We have transferred at least double the Constitutional minimum of 15 percent of shareable revenues to the counties. In absolute Kenya shilling terms we are talking of transferring Sh1 trillion to 47 counties as of the financial year 2016/17,” he said.

“Of which,” he continued, “Sh168 billion has gone directly to arid and semi-arid counties; Sh6 billion as part of the equalisation fund, Sh87 billion to the Constituency Development Fund, Sh13.4 billion to youth, women and persons with disability.”

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