NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 13 – The Council of Governors has demanded an allocation of Sh238 billion to be shared out among the 47 counties in the next financial year, which is Sh20 billion more than proposed by the National Assembly’s Committee on Budget and Appropriations.
Wajir Governor Abdullahi Mohamad and his Kiambu counterpart William Kabogo cautioned that county governments could be staring at a financial crisis that could short-circuit devolution if both chambers of Parliament reject their proposal.
The House team has proposed to allocate Sh218 billion to the counties, which falls short of the Sh279 billion recommended by the Commission for Revenue Allocation (CRA).
“We have actually climbed down to reality because the number that we initially worked with was Sh350 billion then we had discussion with CRA on (their proposal of) Sh279. But Sh238 is the floor in as far as our perspective is concerned to allow every county to at least meet its operating expenditure without contravening the equitable share allocation formula that has been suggested in the constitution and adopted by the CRA,” said Mohamad who is the Council of Governors’ Finance Committee chairman.
The Governors proposal was hammered after a meeting of the Inter-governmental Budget and Economic Council (IBEC) which draws memberships from the Council of Governors, the Ministry of Devolution and Planning, the Transition Authority and chaired by the Deputy President.
Kabogo who was accompanied to the meeting by Council Vice-chairman and Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero and Nyeri Governor Nderitu Gachagua said they were prepared to let some functions revert to the national government.
The Kiambu Governor cited the management of Level 5 Hospitals (formerly provincial hospitals) as one of the devolved functions that they considered surrendering back to the national government until the county governments can develop capacity.
He also blamed the National Treasury of sabotaging their takeover of the nine facilities by refusing to release Sh20 billion in condition grants from the national government to the counties.
The MPs’ Budget and Appropriation Committee members led by their chairman Mutava Musyimi remained reluctant to approve additional funding to the devolved units, citing wastage and misappropriation of funds by Governors.
“We have heard you but as we sit here we are acting in the interest of the public. We are under duty to be fair and to work in the interest of the public,” said Musyimi.
At the same time, the Governors told the House team that the IBEC had agreed on setting up a fund which will used to pay a’ golden handshake’ to county staff who will be retrenched in a planned staff rationalisation programme.
“To continue making development we need to reduce the wage bill to a sustainable, lean and efficient public service, but these are Kenyans who are working, their families depend on them – what are you sending home to do?” Kabogo asked.