Governor Kawira Mwangaza
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Why Meru County has yet to pass a budget

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Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza.

Photo credit: File| Nation Media Group

Meru County government is yet to pass its 2024/2025 budget as a standoff between the county assembly and the executive has stalled the budget process for two months.
The county assembly is expected to pass the budget estimates this week and the appropriation bill in two weeks after a protracted battle with the executive over a Sh12.3 billion County Fiscal Strategy Paper (CFSP) 2024.

This is well past the June 30 deadline stipulated in the Public Finance Management (PFM) Act.
The PFM Act, 2012 requires the executive to submit the CFSP to the county assembly by February 28 for approval within 14 days. This is followed by the submission of the county budget estimates to the assembly for approval by April 30.

In Meru, the standoff began when the county assembly passed the 2024 CFSP with several amendments, allocating Sh45 million per ward (Sh1.8 billion) from the development budget.
This clashed with the executive's budget estimates, which allocated Sh15 million to each of the 46 wards.
Section 129 2(b) of the PFM Act states that the executive member for finance "shall ensure that the budget estimates submitted are in accordance with the resolutions of the county assembly on the county fiscal strategy paper".
In protest, Finance Executive Ibrahim Mutwiri sought advice from the Controller of Budget (COB), arguing that the MCAs had "overhauled and changed the basic structure of the PFSP".

“The assembly ignored the requirement that it has to seek the finance executive views on recommended amendments. The County Assembly introduced its version of the CFSP through changing the provided ceilings…The CFSP was also passed outside the legal timeline,” Mr Mutwiri stated.
Consequently, the Controller of Budget Dr Margaret Nyakang’o hosted a mediation meeting where she directed the feuding parties to enter negotiations and avert a budgetary stalemate.

Speaking to Nation on Monday, July 1, Budget and Appropriations Committee chairperson Jacob Mwirigi said the negotiations occasioned the delay in the budget-making process.
“After negotiations, we agreed on Sh33 million per ward. The executive was to present a memo explaining the discrepancies between the approved county fiscal strategy paper 2024 and the budget estimates proposal. We are late because we received the memorandum last week,” Mr Mwirigi explained.
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According to the memorandum by Mr Mutwiri, it was resolved that each ward be allocated Sh33 million for development.

“The ward-based projects for the 2024/2025 financial year will be as follows: Sh18 as equitable allocation, Sh7 million from the Fuel Levy fund and Sh8 million for flagship projects. This will ensure an allocation of approximately Sh1.5 billion on development,” Finance Executive Ibrahim Mutwiri stated.

Mr Mwirigi said the Assembly now needs at least a week to conduct public participation on the budget estimates.
"The Assembly will conduct public participation on Wednesday and hopefully pass the estimates in a special sitting this week. We hope to pass the Appropriation Bill next week," he said.
Majority Whip Jim Muchui said the Controller of Budget had been informed of the delays in the budget process.
"Each ward will also receive Sh3 million for education bursaries, making a total of Sh36 million in the new financial year," Mr Muchui said.

The move by the MCAs to allocate most of the development funds to the wards comes amid allegations that Governor Kawira Mwangaza is discriminating against wards whose MCAs oppose her.
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