Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) in Taita-Taveta have allocated themselves shs. 400 million as Ward Development Fund after they unanimously approved the supplementary Appropriation Bill 2015 for the current fiscal year.
The MCAs made several amendments that involved slashing of the governor’s budget by shs. 300 million while the county Assembly’s budget was also reduced by shs. 200 million.
The money was set aside as Ward Development Fund and also to settle massive bills the county has accrued since 2013.
That means that each of the 20 Wards in the County will receive sh 20 million as money for development.
The approval of the bill comes after months of protracted negotiations and wrangling between the executive and the county assembly over the shs. 3.8 billion budget for the county.
The amendments presented by the Chairman of the Public Investments and Accounts Committee, Mr. Omar Ahmed notes that all pending projects for the two past financial years will now be completed in the current fiscal year.
“All ward equalization fund projects for 2013/14 and 2014/15 financial year will now be completed in this current fiscal year”, reads part of the explanation for the amendments.
While approving the bill on Tuesday, the MCAs defended the move to slash the budgets arguing that the move was necessitated by the need to settle all bills and at the same time ensure the stalled projects were completed without further delay.
“Shs. 600 million allocated to the County Assembly was slashed to shs. 200 million. We also took some money from the executive which will be used to pay bills and complete all the projects”, noted the Chief Whip, Jason Tuja.
He regretted that the budget impasse between the executive and the County assembly has dragged on for six months forcing development projects in the wards to stall.
The County Assembly has in the past rejected the budget proposal by the executive after the Ward Development Fund was allocated shs. 6.5 instead of twenty million.
The Bill also has proposed to reduce to shs. 2.7 billion workers’ salaries which had earlier been pegged at shs. 3.1 billion.
Also affected in the reduction of allocation is the health docket whose budget was trimmed from shs. 1.3 billion to one billion shillings.
The Governor’s office will now receive shs. 109 million from the initial shs. 171 million.
The county assembly reserved shs. 550 million as money for salaries and expenses.
Departments hardest hit by the amendments include Administration and Devolution, Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources which were not allocated any funds for capital expenditure.
The MCAs urged the governor to speedily approve the bill to allow the stalled projects to start and bills to be paid.
“We have very short time left before the end of the financial year and the governor needs to move with speed and approve the bills,” said Tuja.
County Executive Committee Member for Devolution and Administration, Ms. Linet Mavu said that the bill had not yet been approved as the executive was still studying it.
She said that the governor and his team were analyzing the amended budgetary allocation before any steps were taken.
“The governor has not yet approved the Bill which is currently being scrutinized”, she said.
By Wagema Mwangi