Employees of the Nairobi City County government and the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) can now heave a sigh of relief after acting Governor Benson Mutura signed budget warrants, paving the way for the implementation of the county’s Sh37.5 billion budget.
As the first assignment immediately after being sworn in Monday, Mr Mutura appended his signature to the warrants, bringing to an end the months-long budget stalemate.
The new development means that NMS will now access its Sh27.1 billion budget, City Hall Sh8.4 billion and the county assembly Sh2 billion.
City Hall and NMS had been facing total paralysis after former governor Mike Sonko refused to sign the warrants — a document needed by the National Treasury, Controller of Budget and the Central Bank — to authorise withdrawal of funds from the County Revenue Fund.
Consequently, county employees, MCAs and assembly staff had not been paid their salaries for the last two months after the Controller of Budget stopped the use of Vote on Accounts by the county to run its recurrent expenditure after the passage of the budget in October.
At the mercy of Sonko
This left both NMS and the county government at the mercy of Sonko, who continued to stand his ground, declining to sign the warrants for the new budget to be uploaded to enable release of funds to the county.
Acknowledging the dire straits the county government has been in, Mr Mutura pointed out that the budget standoff has seen salaries of the more than 11,000 county workers delayed, medical covers due to them stopped and pending bills not paid, with the county government staring at total paralysis.
“The fact that I proceed to act in the position of governor of Nairobi City is testament enough that things are not working well and we must fix them,” said Mr Mutura after being sworn in by Justice Jairus Ngaah.
“I know you are undergoing tough times. It is unfortunate that due to the budget stalemate, you do not have medical cover, your salaries have been delayed. As we commence work, my first assignment will be to ensure these matters, including the budget issue, are addressed in order to restore service delivery,” he added.
The budget was passed by MCAs in October but Sonko declined to assent to the Nairobi City County Appropriations Bill, 2020, referring it back to the assembly through a memorandum.
The memorandum was later rejected by the assembly on November 3, 2020, before the Bill was gazetted into law a week later even after Sonko still refused to append his signature to the same budget, with his actions threatening to ground operations of both the county government and NMS.