NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 14 – Unaccounted revenue collection, infrastructure development and trade was the focus of the Nakuru gubernatorial debate on Thursday.
The candidates who included Lee Kinyanjui, John Mututho and Peter Koros were facing off during the debate convened by the Kenya Association of Manufactures (KAM).
Kinyanjui who kicked of the session stated that a county can only pride itself when it has critical resources like roads and water in place to attract the right type of businesses.
“When all you do is collect license fees and there is no evidence of how this money is being utilised, then the investors move to other counties. I commit to automate all key county processes to not only boost our revenue collection but also institute audits that will give the public a clear view of the collection verses spend,” he stated.
On his part, Mututho took issue with the rationale used to arrive at license fees, terming it arbitrary and illogical.
“How do you charge a salon owner Sh10,000 while the amount of revenue and stock combined only adds up to Sh8,000? I will take priority in reviewing these costs to not only make it affordable and encourage these business owners to pay up, but also protect the taxpayers who are our employers,” he stated.
Koros stated that the automation process will eliminate parallel revenue collection, ensuring that priority areas get the funding they require in order to deliver to the citizenry.
“Why would you excavate 10 roads in one go and only tarmac two? Instead of paying attention to only two and deliver a good job? Automating key county processes will help interrogate spending of revenue collection and allocation which has not happened in the past,” he stated.
He stated that Nakuru which is an agriculturally-rich county is currently riddled with a Sh5 billion debt arising from what is termed as over planning, missing out on the development of priority areas.
In the debt, it was noted that Sh195 million is said to have arose from foreign travel by the County Executive on bench-marking trips.
“Why would you engage in activities that have no direct impact on the county development agenda and later seek extra resources to bridge a deficit that will not generate revenue?” he posed.
On the issue of instituting pro-business and economic growth policies for the county, the candidates affirmed their commitment to make available a conducive environment for large industries and small traders, by availing the requisite facilities to conduct business.
“Before we develop policies to address the current issues, we need to go back to the business community and establish where we went wrong. Sound policies originate from guided decisions and there’s no better people to advice the governor than those already carrying out the business, because they have first-hand information,” Koros said.
In a rare show of promise, all three aspiring candidates pointed out to a great need to look at an active employment agenda by enabling businesses to operate on minimum costs for growth.
This would enable businesses to attract and retain a bigger workforce a majority of whom happen to be skilled youth who are currently jobless or engaged in informal businesses.
“The reason hawkers exist is because they have a commodity and identify a potential market so they move to where the customers are. Hawking is not a permanent state of business, if you avail him space to carry out genuine trade then he becomes a business, he pays for a trade license and the bank will be willing to extend him some money to grow his business,” Kinyanjui stated.
In conclusion, the candidates pointed out to the realisation of the County Government Act; that requires the institution of an urban management board, which will help in spatial planning and resource allocation in the town to reduce congestion.