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CoG cries foul over zero counties development allocation claims, urges explanation

But Oparanya argues that low absorption of development funds has also been partly attributed to delays in disbursement of monies by the National Treasury/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 21 – The Senate and Council of Governors have called on the Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo to clarify findings contained in a report which suggests the development spending in 24 counties fell below the 30 per cent threshold in the first three months of this financial year.

CoG Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya noted that a report circulating in the media was designed to ridicule county chiefs as it was based on erroneous and outdated information.

“Obviously there is no county that will not allocate money for development items; obviously the law is very clear that the PFM Act provides that at least 30 per cent of your budget must be development; that is in law, so it unlikely that, that particular budget will pass at the level of the County Assembly if it does not meet that minimum threshold, so that report is very erroneous and I think you will be hearing more from the Controller of Budget,” he explained.

In the report, the CoB said development expenditure amounted to only Sh3.51 billion, which represents an absorption rate of 2 per cent, which is an increase from 0.9 per cent attained in the first quarter of FY 2017/18 where total development expenditure was Sh1.15 billion.

But Oparanya argues that low absorption of development funds has also been partly attributed to delays in disbursement of monies by the National Treasury, which affected the timely implementation of county programmes.

“What usually happens, given that fact that we had just had an election the other year, there was delay in the disbursement of funds. The funds started coming in October when obviously the first quarter (of the financial year) was over, so there was no expenditure on development in the first three months. That is common when we are transiting from one financial year to another.”

He explained that counties that had outstanding balances with the Treasury had their money released to them on July 2 but those who had already exhausted money had nothing to spend in those three months.

“The few counties that had spent money on development used the money that they had rolled over from the previous year,” the CoG Chair noted.

The findings covering the period between July to September 2018 shows that Baringo, Garissa, Homa Bay, Isiolo, Kajiado, Kericho, Kisii, Kisumu, Lamu, Machakos, Makueni, Mandera, Marsabit, Meru, Mombasa, Nyandarua, Samburu, Siaya, Tan River, Trans-Nzoia, Turkana, Uasin Gishu, Wajir and West Pokot counties incurred zero expenditure on development.

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Senate Majority Whip Irungu Kang’ata (Murang’a) suggests that the low absorption of development funds has also been partly attributed to the shortfall in ordinary revenue collection.

“As you read that report, which I saw being discussed yesterday, you have to look at the wider macro-economic factors that are affecting collection of taxes and therefore the inability of National Government to disburse in the said schedule within that same period,” he said.

He cited that none of the 47 counties had received a cent of the Sh314 billion shareable revenue by August 2018, a month after the 2018/19 financial year commenced.

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