EU launches programme to monitor spending in counties

By: CAROLINE WAFULA

The European Union has called for consistent monitoring of spending by county governments to ensure accountability and transparency.

EU Deputy Head of Cooperation in Kenya Bruno Pozzi says scrutinising budgets and development plans of counties will also improve their governance systems.

Mr Pozzi, who spoke during the launch of a programme aimed at encouraging the public to participate in devolved governance, further urged the civil society to take an active role and ensure functions of counties are not duplicated.

The programme dubbed “Strengthening the capacities of state and non-state actors for effective devolved governance in Kenya” will be implemented in three phases in the first selected ten counties at the cost of 1 million euros (Sh118 million).

The counties targeted for phase one are Mombasa, Kilifi, Tana River, Machakos, Makueni, Kitui, Nakuru, Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet and West Pokot.

The project is co-funded by the EU and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

According to the EU, the aim of the project is to raise the capacity of county governments’ governance systems to respond to the needs of the citizens.

At the same time, it is expected to public awareness to encourage participation in governance.

“Without the involvement of citizens in ensuring checks and balances, we will see more overpriced wheelbarrows, more damning reports by the Controller of Budget, not much change in service delivery and in the end, growing animosity against county authorities and the devolution set-up as a whole,” Mr Pozzi said.

The programme has been launched on the backdrop of growing concern over how county governments are spending public funds.

Most counties are accused of wasting tax payers’ money on non-priority projects.

Massive wastage of public funds have been reported in counties which are also guilty of failing to involve the public in key decisions, including those relating to determining development projects.

Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar, who attended the launch, welcomed the initiative, which he termed a blessing to the devolution process.

“It is important to get absolute citizens participation in the noble process of devolution and that is why we should put in place more structures to enhance public participation,” he said.