ASAL Counties call for a review of equalization fund

The Governors want the national government to reorganise management and distribution of the equalization fund.

The Council of Governors Chairman, JosphatNanok said on Thursday that disbursement of the kitty to specific counties as listed by the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) has been wanting, leading to huge unspent funds.

As governors, we are concerned over the management of equalization fund. Currently, the fund is implemented from the National Treasury thus making it difficult in terms of disbursement, said Nanok.

To tame the challenge, Nanok stated that Parliament needs to develop a legislation specifically addressing the fund, or the executive establishes an autonomous authority of the fund as enshrined in the Constitution since as it now, the fund was yet to create necessary impact in the Arid and Semi Arid Lands (ASALs).

Implementation of the fund is wanting. Allowing it to be administered at the national treasury makes it difficult for implementation and offering of basic services. As governors, we will seek for reorganisation of the same to ensure the allocated funds are well utilized, he added.

Speaking during the opening of the inaugural ASAL conference in Kilifi, Nanok, who is also the Turkana governor, said all the players needed to be involved to ensure the current challenges were fully addressed.

Kilifi County Governor, AmasonKingi said it was sad that the concept of equalization fund as enshrined in the law was almost losing meaning.

The goal post on the equalization fund keeps on changing, so where do we domicile the fund that is supposed to fund basic services, but now it’s funding everything under the sun? he posed.

Kingi emphasized that the fund should have been domiciled in the recipient counties.

This, said the governor, has led to conflict in terms of development projects. For instance, the national and county governments could be undertaking similar projects, like sinking boreholes in the same locality, separated by say 10 metres without prior consultation, thus diluting impact of the project.

CRA recently reviewed the marginalisation policy by stopping use of the county as the basis for equalization fund, with emphasis now turning to sub locations.

Initially, the equalization fund was designed to benefit only 14 counties mostly in the ASALs. CRA Chief Executive Officer, George Ooko explained that sub regions even in the developed counties would now start benefiting from the revised policy.

Though the 14 counties will still benefit with 80 percent, 20 percent will be allocated to the sub regions in other counties, he stated.

The Samburu Governor, Moses Kasaine said through consultation at the conference by all stakeholders, the controversy surrounding the equalization fund would be put to rest.

During the 2018/19 financial year, the government allocated Sh.4.7 billion to equalization fund.

The Deputy President, William Ruto who officially opened the conference said following the review of the marginalization policy by CRA, a total of 34 counties, including the 29 ASALs would benefit from the fund for the next three years.

We encourage counties to continue dialogue with the Commission to ensure that the equalization fund is implemented as envisaged by the Constitution, the deputy president said.

The equalization fund was established by the 2010 Constitution to address historical marginalisation and unequal development across Kenya.

Source: Kenya News Agency