Counties earn Sh84m out of Sh16bn mines use cash

Ikolomani gold

Residents of Ikolomani in Kakamega County mine gold at Sigalagala.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

County governments collected below one per cent of the Sh16 billion they could have raised from natural resource exploitation fees in the financial year that ended June last year, an analysis by the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) shows, highlighting the own-source revenue (OSR) underperformance troubling the devolved units.

During the 2022/23 financial year, the regional administrations jointly raised only Sh84 million from mining fees, a meagre 0.52 per cent of the estimated potential, translating to an underperformance of 99.48 per cent, data from the Commission on Revenue Allocation shows.

This underpins the consistent OSR underperformance in the devolved units, which has always caused an over-reliance on transfers from the national government, which is often delayed as well as below targets.

Since their inception, devolved units have barely raised money beyond 65 per cent of the total targeted OSR, most of which has always been concentrated in just a few counties, with Nairobi raising nearly 26 per cent annually.

Last year, counties managed just Sh38.7 billion from OSR, falling short by 34.1 per cent of the expected Sh57.37 billion. It was, however, a slight improvement from the Sh35.9 billion raised in the 2021/22 financial year.

Curiously, revenues from the export of minerals and other natural resources have been rising over the years, begging the question of why the cash-strapped counties are not tapping into the full revenue potential.

In the same 2022/23 financial year, for instance, Kenya earned a total of Sh36.5 billion from exports of soda ash and titanium ores and concentrates, the country’s main mineral exports.

Other natural resources exploited in Kenya include salt, fluorspar, limestone, salt, niobium, tantalum, and petroleum. At the same time, a survey by the Mining ministry last year revealed that the country has over 900 minerals still unexploited.

Counties also missed revenue potential from several other sources, including trading fees, parking, market centres, property rates, and liquor licencing fees among others.

Parking, for instance, only raised Sh2.6 billion for the devolved units in the 2022/23 financial year, out of the estimated potential of Sh8.5 billion. Similarly, trading licenses, which could have generated Sh23 billion, only raised Sh4.5 billion.

Counties only met potential in revenues from the sale of agricultural products, operation of public facilities like toilets cess, and from signboards and advertising fees.

The PBO, in its latest Budget Options document, has urged counties to shift from manual collection of own-source revenues to improve their performance in raising such funds.