Governors insist counties must get Sh450 billion

President William Ruto,

President William Ruto, his Deputy Rigathi Gachagua, Governors, Patrick Ole Ntutu (Narok), Susan Kihika (Nakuru), Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay), Cecily Mbarire (Embu), Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga) and other leaders arrive at Lake Naivasha Resort in Nakuru County for the day-two of the National Executive retreat.

Photo credit: Boniface Mwangi | Nation Media Group

Governors yesterday declined to drop their hard-line stance on county allocations for the next financial year, insisting on their proposed Sh450 billion.

Their demand came even as President William Ruto acknowledged that his administration’s relationship with the county bosses is not rosy, but called for amity for the sake of devolution.

The National Treasury, in its final draft of the 2024 Budget Policy Statement (BPS), has reduced counties’ equitable share allocation by Sh10.52 billion. An earlier draft of the BPS had set the amount at Sh401.6 billion while the final version downgraded it to Sh391.1 billion.

The Council of Governors (CoG) has proposed an allocation of Sh439.5 billion as equitable share and a further Sh10.52 billion from the Road Maintenance Levy Fund (RMLF).

Yesterday, ‘Nation’ learnt the governors, who met President Ruto in Naivasha, have requested for further consultations on the matter, warning that development in the counties could be hampered by financial constraints in the 2024/25 Financial Year.

The Ruto administration has insisted on the Sh391 billion, arguing that, should there be a shortfall in revenue collection, it is the central government that shall absorb the effects of the missed targets as county revenues are non-deductible.

“The counties do not operate in a vacuum but within the overall framework of the national government. The governors had a desire for a certain figure but we want to manage resources prudently and realistically,” Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi said.

CoG Chairperson Anne Waiguru said implementing devolution has not been easy due to fighting between institutions mandated to oversee its success.

Counties are also sagging under debts and pending bills partly because of the piecemeal disbursements of funds. Also, own-source revenue collected continues to underperform.

Ms Waiguru also lamented that the national government is clinging onto some functions.

The Intergovernmental Relations Technical Committee (IGRTC) last year gazetted 65 functions for release to the counties.  It has completed validation of the functions with various stakeholders and is filing a report to the National and County Government Coordinating Summit.

“As governors, we have restrained ourselves from having fights publicly. If you’re going to hire officers to do work done by county officials there will be a clash,” Ms Waiguru warned.

President Ruto said his government is committed to strengthening devolution “to enhance service delivery to the people”, adding that he invited the CoG leadership to the National Executive Retreat to strengthen the partnership between the two levels of government.