Busia County seeks Sh556m refund wrongly allocated to Bungoma

By: PATRICK LANGAT

Busia County wants the revenue allocation agency to speed up the refund of Sh556 million erroneously given to Bungoma in 2013.

The county says the money, allocated to Bungoma because of a census error, has hurt its development budget.

This was after the 2009 census mistakenly placed parts of Teso South and Teso North in Bungoma County, instead of Busia.

The Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) allocates funds basing partly on county population.

Earlier attempts to have the money refunded have been futile since the CRA and Bungoma County say there is a vacuum in law on how such an error can be corrected.

Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong’ on Thursday said the gap in the law has denied them the much needed cash.

“Busia has suffered for long already. This is our money and yet we have now stayed helpless because we cannot deliver what we promised our people,” Mr Ojaamong’ told the Nation.

“With 550 million we can equip a lot of health facilities and dig hundreds of boreholes,” he said.

WRONG POPULATION MAP

Busia Senator Amos Wako said he had written to the commission, the Ministry of Devolution and the National Treasury over the matter.

“The National Census Board is liable for the mistake because we cannot really blame Bungoma for getting the money meant for Busia if the board gave a wrong population map to the CRA,” said the former AG, who spoke to the Nation from Geneva, Switzerland.

CRA said it is hopeful that a planned meeting between concerned parties will help chart a way forward on the issue.

“We are working on it and both counties have been supportive on this. We are meeting them with the Treasury soon to determine how exactly the money will be found for Busia,” the commission Chairman Micah Cheserem said by phone Thursday.

Bungoma Governor Ken Lusaka said though they agree that Busia should get back its funds, it is not clear who should make the refund.

“We have to resolve this issue because Bungoma has used the money and have not budgeted for the refund this financial year. I believe when we meet all the relevant agencies, we should be able to make progress,” he said.

In January, Busia County Assembly wrote to the Senate over the matter.

“We want the Senate to expeditiously handle the matter with the relevant offices so as to take necessary action to rectify the error and return the money to Busia County,” the Assembly said in a letter dated January 6.