Counties spent Sh14 billion extra on salaries just before elections: CoB Nyakango

Margaret Nyakang’o

Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o.

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

Counties have until next month to migrate to the unified human resource information system, to seal loopholes abused by administrations processing salaries manually.

The Controller of Budget (CoB) said as she reported the devolved units paid a whooping Sh15.6 billion as salaries manually in the year to June.

The spending on salaries was Sh14 billion up compared to the year 2020/21, when counties spent Sh176 billion on salaries.

Of the money, Sh3.6 billion was paid between April and June.

CoB Margaret Nyakango, in her report of counties budget implementation in the 2021/22 financial year, said while the counties cited lack of personal numbers for processing the salaries manually, the system is prone to abuse and could have been used to embezzle public funds.

“County governments cited lack of Personal Numbers for failing to process all salaries in the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Database (IPPD) system. This is contrary to Government policy, which requires wages to be processed through the IPPD system. The manual payroll is prone to abuse and may lead to the loss of public funds due to lack of proper controls,” Ms Nyakango said.

The report shows that counties that led in paying huge amounts of salaries manually include Bomet (Sh1.24 billion), Nakuru (Sh1.06 billion) and Garissa (Sh1.03 billion).

“The Controller of Budget advises county governments to fast-track the acquisition of staff personal numbers to ensure the entire wage bill is processed through the prescribed personnel system. County governments are required to migrate to the Unified Human Resource Information System by October 2022 in line with the guidelines by the Head of Public Service,” she said.

The concern by Ms Nyakango is the devolved units’ heavy spending on salaries during the last financial year before elections, where nearly half of their spending was on salaries and allowances.

While the 47 counties spent a total of Sh400.9 billion between July 2021 and June 2022, Sh190.1 billion (47 percent), was spent on paying salaries. This is against Public Finance Management (PFM) laws that require spending on salaries not to exceed 35 percent of total spending.

“The Controller of Budget notes that personnel expenditure by only four counties was within the 35 percent ceiling, namely; Mandera, Tana River, Isiolo and Kwale, at 28.4 percent, 29.6 percent, 33.1 percent, 33.1 percent, and 34.9 percent, respectively,” Ms Nyakango observed.

The report shows that the counties spent Sh50.5 billion on salaries in the last three months to June 2022, after spending Sh139.6 billion in the nine months to March. This means that in the last three months of 2021/22, counties spent an extra Sh1 billion monthly on salaries cumulatively.

“The OCOB recommends that County Governments should ensure that expenditure on personnel emoluments is contained at sustainable levels and in compliance with Regulation 25 (1) (b) of the Public Finance Management (County Governments) Regulations, 2015,” she added.