NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 7 – Governors may be forced to dig into their development kitties in order to plug a Sh8.1 billion deficit left in their budgets after the Salary and Remuneration Commission recommended a new salary schemes for Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) and County Executive Committees (CECs).
Wajir Governor Ahmed Abdulahi Mohammed, who is also the Council of Governors Finance and Economic Affairs Committee chairman, told the Senate Finance Committee that they will have to divert funds for road maintenance (Sh3.3 billion), support for Level Five hospitals (Sh4.5billion) and maternal healthcare (Sh4.6 billion) to meet salaries.
“To the extent that this money has not been into the overall pot, we are seeing collectively counties will be using money meant for other things; things they might have used for healthcare, roads… to foot salaries. Because once SRC has given those increases then it’s impossible for us to tell our staff that we can’t pay them,” he said.
He was speaking on Tuesday as the Senate committee conducted public sittings on the Bill which outlines how the two governments will share Sh1.25 trillion allocated in the budget to be presented in June.
The Division of Revenue Bill 2015, recommends that allocation to counties would be increased from the current Sh228 billion to Sh258 billion.
Nyeri County Senator Mutahi Kagwe had questioned how the Governors intend to meet the new salary capping considering that the national government had allocated Sh4.5 billion.
“Is it your understanding as the Council of Governors that either you will be able to foot the Sh8.1billion deficit or is it our understanding that your remuneration will be Sh4.5 billion and therefore you will not be raising levies to the recommended level,” said Senator Kagwe.
National Treasury Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge had earlier stated that each level of government will be required to find a way to comply with the SRC recommendations.
He said the National Government will forced to borrow both internally and externally as well as turn leasing for projects through public private sector partnership in order to meet its targets.
The governors were also taken to task over their defiance to appear before the Senate to account for expenditure queries raised by the Auditor-General in his report looking into expenditure by the county governments.
“Turf wars are unnecessary; many of them are as a result of personal rivalry and egos, which I don’t think can be clarified in court by a judge”
Senators Boni Khalwale and Mutula Kilonzo Junior (Makueni) and Kagwe questioned why the council was spending over Sh20 million annually to rent out seven floors in an up market building in Westlands.
They recommended that governors terminate the lease and direct the money to be used in respective counties.
Governors Abdulahi and James Ongwae (Kisii) rejected the move saying that council was an intergovernmental institution which was set up to streamline their operations and claimed that it was the responsibility of the national government to pay the rent.