NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 12 – All 47 County governments have been given two weeks to revise their budgets after spending watchdogs warned that they had failed to meet public finance regulations.
Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo said governors had submitted budgets that included items such as grants for the purchase motor vehicles, loans and mortgages for county officials.
She has told the governors that the Sh210 billion meant for devolution will be disbursed once they adhere to the laid down procedures.
“The Controller of Budget cannot start releasing money to a county that has shown a very big deficit, because how is that deficit going to be closed? If we released the allocation from the national government and the county runs out money, it will not even be able to pay salaries,” she cautioned.
Members of County Assemblies in Kisumu, Homa Bay, Bungoma, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Meru and other counties had allocated themselves Sh80 million for cars and mortgages in the county budget. But Odhiambo said this was the function of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.
She spoke at a meeting chaired by Deputy President William Ruto that offered a forum for consultation and cooperation between the national government and county governments on matters relating to budgeting, the economy and financial management at the national and county level.
The inter-governmental forum is also mandated to handle matters relating to borrowing and national government loan guarantees; recommendations of the Commission on Revenue Allocation on the equitable distribution of revenue between the national and county governments and amongst the county governments as provided under the Public Finance Management Act.
The Chairman of the Commission on Revenue Allocation Micah Cheserem had earlier expressed concerns that 25 counties had started the financial year with high budget deficits.
County governments started the year with a deficit of Sh32.7 billion in total. Twenty three percent of them have balanced budgets.
Some of the counties with large deficits include Vihiga (-91 percent), Mombasa (-79 percent), Nyamira (-74 percent), Siaya (-43 percent), Migori (-37 percent) and Nandi (-36 percent).
“Unless you can justify how you will fund a deficit, you must go back and have a balanced budget or tell us where this money will come from otherwise we are starting from a wrong footing,” cautioned Cheserem.