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Broke local authorities to face the axe

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 30 – The government on Friday announced that it would soon disband local authorities that cannot cater for their expenses.

Local Authority Transfer Fund (LATF) Advisory Board Chairman Kariithi Murithi said that only 40 of the 175 authorities were able to sustain themselves.

“Politicians seem to be calling even for more local authorities, but the technocrats in Ministries of Local Government, Finance and the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission (KACC) know very well that quite a number of local authorities are not able to sustain themselves,” he said.

Mr Murithi expressed that some local authorities were even using the LATF to pay their workers, which was supposed not to be the case.

The government in this financial year allocated Sh9.25 billion, which was distributed among all local authorities throughout the country.

The Board Chairman said that it was necessary to merge the 175 local authorities to come up with a suitable number that can pay their debts and provide efficient services to the people.

However, he said a lot of them were facing numerous challenges ranging from lack of professionalism to shortage of funds.

“Local authorities have a challenge of human resource; 85 percent of the labour is unskilled,” he said.

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Mr Murithi also cited urbanisation as a major setback due to lack of capacity and poor financial management caused by failure to collect the revenue required to run them.

In efforts to counter this, KACC launched a probe into the systems, policies, procedures and practices in the disbursement and utilisation of the LATF.

KACC Director Justice Aaron Ringera said the commission would investigate the bodies, with a view to prevent and stop corruption, to ensure the LATF is put into proper use and for intended purposes.

“The examination, which we are launching today (Friday) is a preventive strategy that will identify corruption loopholes in the distribution of LATF,” he illustrated, adding that the commission had received several complaints of misappropriation.

The Justice said it would be important to have a constitutional provision that would ensure all disbursed funds are not misappropriated.

Since the inception of the LATF in the financial year 1999/2000, Sh47 billion has been disbursed to local authorities.

The government said it expected to increase the allocations to the fund in the next financial year.

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