, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 9 – The Chairman of the Council of Governors Isaac Ruto has defended the failure to spend Sh27 billion by county governments in their first three months of operation.
Ruto says 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 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, Sh900million 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.
Out of the 47 counties, twenty seven counties did not even request money for projects.
Nairobi, Mombasa, Narok and Bomet counties recorded the highest expenditure while the lowest were West Pokot, Lamu, Elgeyo -Marakwet and Wajir counties.
“The analysis shows that a total of Sh27.1 billion of the total revenue available remained unspent in the period under review. This low uptake of funds could be attributed to the failure of most counties to meet the conditions for the release of funds as stipulated in the Public Financial Management Act, 2012,” Odhiambo said in the report.
Ruto however says most of the counties have now come up with developmental plans and called on the government to be flexible and release all the funds when requested arguing that “it is still lying idle at the Central Bank”.
This comes even as the Senators plan to come up with a Bill aimed at limiting recurrent expenditure of County Governments to 40 percent.
“I don’t think this is the time for that. The counties have just started and we better focus on how to make this better,” Ruto said adding that the senators should be working with the governors to ensure county assemblies become a reality.