, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 29 – The Commission on Revenue Allocation on Wednesday supported demands by Governors for more revenue allocation to counties.
Chairman of the Commission Micah Cheserem however asked the Governors to justify their expenditure.
“As long as the Council of Governors can tell us that they need the extra money to do something that is of great need then we will give them.”
“What the Council of Governors needs to come and do is to convince the House budget committees on the amount of money that they need,” urged Cheserem.
He argued that the national government should not dictate to the counties on how to spend their money but should instead encourage devolution.
Cheserem also opposed the proposed Equalization Fund Bill saying that they would dispute it as soon as it is tabled in the National Assembly.
“We as a commission do not accept the Bill and recommend that the fund be released to the county governments as a conditional fund and for them to decide how they want to use it,” he added.
The commission also recommended that the county governments reimburse the national government for the money that they spent in paying health workers last year.
“Counties are required by law to pay back the national government what it spent on paying the health workers when there was a stalemate between them and the counties,” he said.
The Chairman of the Council of Governors Isaac Ruto earlier this month defended the failure to spend Sh27 billion by county governments in their first three months of operation.
Ruto said Governors should not be blamed for the low absorption saying the government delayed in releasing funds meant for development expenditure and only disbursed that meant for recurrent expenditure.
“The money we got was only for paying salaries and that is exactly what we did. We did not spend more on development because it was not even given to us and that is why they are saying we did use these funds,” Ruto had told Capital FM News.
According to a report by the Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo, counties only spent Sh13 billion out of the Sh40 billion allocated to them, between July to the end of September last year.
The review of the county expenditure shows that a total of Sh7.1 billion was spent on personnel emoluments, Sh4.9 billion on operations and maintenance, Sh900 million for servicing debts and Sh900 million on development expenditure.
Odhiambo also said the low absorption of the funds was due to laxity by the counties to prepare their procurement plans in time.
“True, the money was not disbursed because we did not have procurement plans. I mean, you don’t just spend government money because it is there, we had to have proper procedure,” he said.
Other hiccups mentioned in the report by the Controller of Budget included the frequent adjournment of County Assemblies due to the agitation for higher remuneration by the members, which affected approval of supplementary budgets and Finance Bills for respective counties.
She said there was also the delay in the enactment of the County Allocation of Revenue Act 2013, which affected the disbursement of the national sharable revenue to the counties.