Release Sh30bn for counties, governors plead with Treasury

By: ISAAC ONGIRI

Some counties have had to borrow money, including from banks, to meet their obligations because the National Treasury has delayed releasing funds for their operations.

Governors yesterday said that the broke counties have been tabling Motions in their assemblies seeking their approval to borrow money from banks even though the financial institutions charge them high interest rates.

Council of Governors Chairman Peter Munya said the counties were on the verge of being grounded after waiting for over a month to access their allocations without success.

He said counties had expected about Sh30 billion from the National Treasury last month, but got nothing.

Mr Munya led governors in a protest after chairing a full council meeting, during which members discussed the delayed disbursement and the Auditor-General’s reports whose findings were released last month. The first focused on county governments while the latest one, published this week, focused on the National Government.

The leaders also rejected moves by the National Government to centralise procurement by introducing a suppliers portal which they claimed would marginalise counties.

“This inordinate delay occasioned for the past one month is grounding counties to a halt. Additionally the bottlenecks and unclear procedures being experienced in the rolling over from one financial year to another has also seen some counties face serious difficulties in service delivery,” said Mr Munya, who is also the Meru Governor.

The burden, according to him, has been heavier on some counties who can now not guarantee July salaries to their staff after struggling to pay them last month.

“The National Treasury must treat this issue with utmost urgency and seriousness and release county monies immediately,” he said.

The National Treasury usually releases money to counties each month based on quarterly approvals by the Controller of Budget.

Yesterday, the governors also said that the proposed e-procurement should be put on hold until workers in counties are properly trained on how to use the system.

He pointed out that it would be redundant to introduce an extremely innovative system and fail to train the persons who will operate this system on a day to day basis.

Mr Munya said: “The council strongly opposes the inception of this programme. It will erode and offend the objectives of devolution on ensuring equitable sharing of national and local resources throughout Kenya.”

He further said that the new idea by the National Government was meant to muzzle economic empowerment in the counties by marginalising the devolved authorities and killing the spirit of devolution.

On the audit reports published last month, the governors dismissed the audit as a “lazy” piece of work that lacked professionalism and was anchored on unnecessary populism.

“We note that most of the response that had been provided to the auditor were not incorporated in the final version of the report. In some counties, the input from management was disregarded or not sought at all,” the governors said in a statement.

Some governors also criticised the Senate for requiring governors to answer their audit queries. They said Speakers of Assemblies were not being subjected to similar scrutiny.