NAIROBI, Kenya, June 5 – The National Treasury says it cannot increase the current budgetary allocations for county governments from the Sh210 billion it has presented in budget estimates.
National Treasury advisor on budgetary issues Albert Mwenda says any attempt to increase the budget will mean deducting monies that have been earmarked for other government ministries.
Mwenda who spoke at a forum to discuss the Division of Revenue Bill in Nairobi says such a move would also interfere with the operations of the counties and bring more conflicts between the national government and the Treasury.
He has however revealed that the Treasury is conducting a study on the running cost of county governments to ensure its operations are not interrupted by insufficient funds.
The Treasury revised its allocation to the county governments upwards following intervention by Deputy President William Ruto.
“Initially the money for the counties was around Sh198 billion. After complaints and some discussions it was increased to Sh210 billion and with this we already have a financing gap of Sh12 billion,” Mwenda said.
Mwenda also denied claims that the Treasury had allocated more money to some ministries whose main tasks had been transferred to the county governments.
“We at the Treasury believe that there are no funds being held at the ministries that will be lying idle. What we will focus on is ensuring we reduce wastage of resources. That has been the biggest problem in the past,” he noted.
“The biggest challenge I see here is that there will be no money at all for development. We will simply be paying salaries and dealing with other administrative costs, yet some of the ministries have too much money with few tasks. I think the government has not yet digested the whole issue of devolution,” Mandera Senator Billow Kerrow complained during the forum organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA).
The Treasury has however assured that it will continue engaging various institutions at the counties by creating awareness on the proper absorption of the available resources.
Mwenda said the new study will also guide on striking a balance in future budgets between the government and the county governments in terms of funding.