Release our Sh148bn, governors demand

James Ongwae

Council of Governors Vice-Chairman and Kisii Governor James Ongwae (right) addresses journalists in Nairobi on April 5, 2022.  He is accompanied by his Kakamega counterpart Wycliffe Oparanya. The council urged the national government to release pending county funds.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

The Council of Governors has demanded the immediate release of Sh148.4 billion owed to the counties by the National Treasury.

They said if this does not happen, operations in the devolved units would be paralysed.

Whereas the total equitable share of revenue stands at Sh370 billion, only Sh222.6 billion has been disbursed to the counties, with only two months remaining to the close of the 2021/22 financial year.

Of the outstanding amount, Sh8.26 billion is owed to 11 counties for January and another Sh16.2 billion to 23 counties for February. All the counties are owed Sh29.6 billion for March and another Sh33.3 billion for April.

This was revealed during a press briefing at the council’s headquarters in Nairobi yesterday where Kisii Governor and council Vice-Chairman James Ongwae said they would engage the Central Bank, Commission on Revenue Allocation, Controller of Budget and Treasury to provide for an overdraft facility to cushion the counties from the delay in disbursement of funds.

National Treasury

“We call upon the National Treasury to expedite the release of these funds to county governments without further delay ... the council shall seek legal redress to resolve the current delay in disbursements of funds to counties,” Mr Ongwae said.

This comes as the Deputy President William Ruto-led Intergovernmental Budget and Economic Council (IBEC) tasked the Treasury and Attorney-General to work out a mechanism to pay Sh107 billion of pending bills that were flagged as ineligible for payment by the AG. Dr Ruto said only Sh45.5 billion of the submitted Sh153 billion of pending bills had been deemed payable after auditing.

The IBEC also asked counties together with the Ministry of Devolution and its Lands counterpart, to ensure that they complete the valuation of all assets in the counties and submit their individual reports by late June or early July.

This will be important because the valuation and asset registries will form part of the Assumption of Office of Governors during the swearing of newly elected county bosses in the coming general polls, the DP said.

Urgent intervention

The governors also urged the National Assembly to fast track the passage of the County Governments Additional Allocation Bill, 2021 to enable counties access Sh39 billion in conditional allocations for the current financial year.

Further, the governors demanded urgent intervention on the ongoing drought. Samburu Governor Moses Lenolkulal said failure to intervene would see hundreds of Kenyans continue dying for lack of water and food.

His sentiments were echoed by his Kakamega counterpart, Wycliffe Oparanya who said his recent two-day visit to Turkana showed him how dire the situation was and urged the Controller of Budget to treat the situation as an emergency and allocate money to deal with the drought.

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