NAIROBI, Kenya Jan 8 – Senators are planning a Bill aimed at limiting recurrent expenditure of County Governments to 40 percent following the latest Controller of Budget report on counties’ expenditure.
The report shows that 27 out of 47 County Governments spent 55 percent on personnel emoluments, 38 percent on operations and maintenance and only seven percent for development.
This is despite the Public Finance Management Act requirement that counties allocate at least 30 percent of their budgets to development.
Senate Majority Leader Kithure Kindiki said the move is aimed at ensuring that Governors do not veer off development of their counties.
“We have 50 years of bad service delivery experience with the National Government including bureaucracy and a bloated workforce that at times is not commensurate with the service delivery output. We have had similar experience with the local authorities,” he said.
Kindiki added: “County Governments have an excellent opportunity to make a fresh start, where you have a lean government but very efficient and effective.”
The Bill seeks to ensure that 60 percent of the money disbursed to counties by the National Government facilitates development projects and the remaining 40 percent goes towards recurrent expenditure. Kindiki, who is the Tharaka-Nithi Senator, said the Bill is at its final stage before it is tabled in Senate for debate and approval.
If approved, the law will limit Governors’ expenditure on ‘bloated personnel’, which eats into funds meant for development projects, and will also compel the county chiefs to downsize the number of staff in their respective offices.
Kindiki said the devolved governments will have to cut down its huge bureaucracy in order to free more resources, currently being used to pay salaries and allowances, for development projects. He warned that if the spiralling wage bill could negatively affect the economy if it is not contained.
Senate Committee on Devolved Government Chairman Kipchumba Murkomen said Governors have a chance to begin on a clean slate, and cautioned them against devolving corruption to the counties.
“The Bill will restrain Governors from misappropriating public funds. Instead of the Governors using the funds to provide quality services to residents, they are busy creating jobs for their cronies and relatives. This trend has to end,” said Murkomen.
Nandi Senator Stephen Sang (who brought lodged a Bill before the Senate seeking to limit spending at counties), termed “unrealistic” county budgets reserved for recurrent expenditure at the expense of development projects.
“The number of staff Governors are employing in their counties is eating into development funds and that is why we want to put to a stop such ventures to save devolution,” said Sang.