Dozens of counties are on the spot for failing to remit statutory deductions, denying staff critical services at public hospitals and government agencies.
Meru, Embu and Murang’a county workers have gone to court saying they have been denied access to key services, including treatment under the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF).
The National Assembly has asked the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to investigate malfeasance in the devolved governments and establish where workers’ money is going.
Public Accounts Committee chairman Opiyo Wandayi told governors to explain their failure to remit the deductions served through the check-off system.
These include deductions to NHIF, the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), Local Authorities Pension Fund (LapFund) and loan repayments.
“This has left employees in a vulnerable state. Banks are recalling their loans,” the Ugunja MP said.
Mr Wandayi added that the situation is unprecedented and goes against the Constitution, the obligations employers have to staff and the Public Finance Management Act, 2012.
He said there is no reason for county governments to fail to remit the money when they continue getting funds from the National Treasury.
“EACC should unearth criminal activities that could have occasioned this unfortunate situation. Those found culpable should be prosecuted,” Mr Wandayi told the Daily Nation.
“We should not make devolution fail yet Kenyans fought hard to realise its fruits.”
Homa Bay, Vihiga and Kisii are some of the county governments that do not remit statutory deductions.
Homa Bay county staff have not contributed anything to the NHIF for more than a year.
Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU), officials said the national insurer no longer funds medical bills for its members.
“We get net salaries but do not enjoy the benefits other workers are getting. Union members have complained of being blacklisted by insurance firms,” KMPDU liaison officer Amos Dulo said.
Vihiga county officials blame the situation on delays of exchequer disbursements, leading to bills accumulating to Sh1 billion.
These deductions to Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), NSSF and the NHIF.
The situation is the same for more than 4,000 Mombasa county government workers.
“This is the fifth month the devolved government has failed to remit the NSSF and NHIF deductions. Life is difficult for workers and their families,” Kenya Union of Clinical Officers Mombasa branch secretary Frankline Makanga told the Daily Nation.
Kenya County Government Workers Union Mombasa branch official, Haji Mwinyi, said members pay for their medication due to an NHIF debt of Sh81 million.
“Our problems began in February. The suffering is unbearable,” he said.
Tana River county health workers secretary-general, Darmon Kwaraa, said there have been challenges even with the devolved government being consistent in remittances.
Finance executive Matheew Bawoya blamed the situation on late disbursement of cash to devolved governments last year.
Kilifi county government workers said getting treatment at public hospitals has become a challenge.
Kenya National Union of Nurses wants the Employment and Labour Relations Court to compel Meru, Embu and Murang’a county governments to explain why they have not remitted union dues as required by the Constitution.