, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 19 – The National Treasury, Controller of Budget and the Commission for Revenue of Allocation have objected to the enactment of a Bill that seeks to promote equitable and decentralized development across the country.
They say enacting the County Wards Development Equalisation Bill, as is currently drafted by Senate Majority Whip Irungu Kang’ata (Murang’a) will have the effect of causing inequality and marginalization in the country.
CRA Chairman Jane Kiringai and National Treasury Chief Administrative Secretary Nelson Gaichuhie argued that counties are distinct entities which derive their operational powers through boundaries set by law, warning that these powers do not extend to appropriating funds outside the law.
Kiringai told the committee that enacting the law may spread thin the resources allocated to counties and further reduce the capacity of county governments to fund some high capacity development programmes.
She said most counties such like Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Nakuru were already having a problem meeting the requirement to allocate 30 per cent of funds distributed through the Division of Revenue Act.
CRA said 31 counties have had to allocate the funds meant for development expenditure towards paying salaries and other recurrent costs.
Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo said there is no need for the Fund because it would be duplicating the functions County Assemblies are already performing.
She opposed the Bill, arguing that County Assemblies have the necessary powers to ensure the objective of the Bill is achieved.
Odhiambo cited a provision requiring a county assembly to approve any budget presented to it as an example of an action that can be addressed in the Annual Budget Estimates.
“This will make it easy for the County Assembly to exercise it oversight role,” she said.
The Controller of Budget and Gaichuhie said the Public Finance Management Act gives the county finance executives, the power to establish such funds with the approval of assemblies.
But, Kangata who is behind the Bill, with the backing of Senators Mutula Kilonzo Junior (Makueni) and Mohamed Mohamud (Mandera) said the Bill aims at ensuring equity in distribution of resources.
The Kangata Bill also provides a mechanism for identification of priority projects in each ward through public participation.
Odhiambo also called for the deletion of a provision proposing the recruitment of an additional four officers at the county level and another four depending on the number of wards in a particular county.
She said this provision is unadvisable especially coming at time when both the national and county government are grappling with a high wage bill resulting from a bloated work force.