Equalisation Fund areas wary of long wait for cash

Bank notes

Billions of shillings meant for the marginalised counties have never been disbursed.

Photo credit: File | AFP

What you need to know:

  • National Assembly approves nomination of Abdullahi Adan Khalif to its board.
  • Mr Khalif said the board, which is yet to commence its work, has a full in-tray of issues.

The implementation of the Equalisation Fund is inching closer after the National Assembly on Wednesday approved the nomination of Abdullahi Adan Khalif to its board.

This comes nearly 12 years after the promulgation of the Constitution. The Committee on Finance and National Planning recommended Mr Khalif for appointment after he emerged the best among the seven candidates in the final shortlist.

Frustration grows over delays and the decision to bring on board more beneficiaries not contemplated by the framers of the Constitution. To them, even the delay to institute the board points to a deliberate derailment.

The Commission on Revenue Allocation in 2019 shifted from counties to sub-locations in distribution, thus added new areas. In total, it now covers 32 counties. 

“It is a decade down the line but in reality, it is only recently that they allocated the first amounts under the fund and I don’t think even that has ever been disbursed. I think the most they have disbursed is about Sh1 billion,” says Mr Mohamed Abdikadir, a former adviser to President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The billions meant for the marginalised areas have never been disbursed since 2012 because of failure by the Treasury and MPs to agree on the model for the fund in line with the Public Finance Management Act.

The funds allocated but not disbursed stood at Sh28.3 billion as of January 2019. In 2019/20, it was allocated Sh5.76 billion in line with Article 204 of the Constitution, which pegs the share for Equalisation Fund at 0.5 per cent of the national revenue.

“The fund should now be having tens of billions accumulated over the last 12 years since the promulgation of the Constitution. If this was disbursed, it would be massive. But the real question is whether this money is there in the first place. It is there on paper; that is all we know,” says Mr Mohamed Guleid, the executive director of Frontier Counties Development Council (FCDC), a beneficiary of the fund.

The frustration among the FCDC members is that even as the National Assembly considers Mr Khalif, the forthcoming polls could muddy the waters for the new board.  

“It is like nothing is moving. Even the process of getting the board members is taking too long and we are now just months to an election and chances of that fund being disbursed by this current government are slim. Let us hope that whoever will be elected this year will be conscious enough,” he said. 

Mr Khalif, upon being approved by MPs, said the board, which is yet to commence its work, has a full in-tray of issues.

“The board has the onerous task of achieving so much within the shortest time possible since the fund would elapse after 10 years unless Parliament extends it,” he said.