10 governors spend nothing on development in first quarter

Photo credit: Stanslaus Manthi | NMG

What you need to know:

  • The governors who failed to spend a single shilling on development were Johnson Sakaja (Nairobi), Wavinya Ndeti (Machakos), Gideon Mung’aro (Kilifi), Cecily Mbarire (Embu), Ahmed Abdullahi (Wajir), Jonathan Lelelit (Samburu), Simon Kachapin (West Pokot), Jeremiah Lomorukai (Turkana) and Erick Mutai (Kericho).
  • Governors Susan Kihika (Nakuru), Mutula Kilonzo Jr (Makueni), and Ken Lusaka (Bungoma), committed less than 1 percent of their budgets to development.

Ten governors did not spend a single cent on the development of their counties in the three months to September while three others used less than one percent of their budgets on growth programmes, a report by the Controller of Budget (CoB) says.

The rest of the budget went to salaries and other recurrent spending against the Public Finance Management (PFM) Act that says development spending should cover at least 35 percent of total spending.

The governors who failed to spend on development in the period are Johnson Sakaja of Nairobi, Wavinya Ndeti of Machakos, Gideon Mung’aro (Kilifi), Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay), Cecily Mbarire (Embu), and Ahmed Abdullahi (Wajir). Also making the list are Jonathan Lelelit (Samburu), Simon Kachapin (West Pokot), Jeremiah Lomorukai (Turkana) and Erick Mutai of Kericho.

The CoB, in her report on counties'  budget implementation during the first quarter of 2023/24 (July – September), revealed that the nine spent all the money paying salaries and other recurrent expenditures.

“During the reporting period, county governments spent Sh6.92 billion on development activities, representing an absorption rate of 3.7 percent of the annual development budget of Sh188.13 billion. Analysis of development expenditure as a proportion of approved annual development budget shows that eleven counties did not report expenditure on development programmes,” CoB Margaret Nyakang’o reported.

Dr Nyakang’o also reported that governors Susan Kihika (Nakuru), Mutula Kilonzo Jr (Makueni), and Bungoma’s Ken Lusaka committed less than one percent of their budgets in the quarter to development.

Development initiatives

This implies that citizens of the 12 counties were starved of development initiatives through the three months as the county bosses focused on paying salaries, allowances and operational expenses.

Nairobi City County, for instance, spent all the Sh3.45 billion during the three months on recurrent expenditure alone. The spending was 73.7 percent of all the funds the Budget controller authorised.

“Analysis of expenditure by economic classification indicates that the County Executive spent Sh2.56 billion on employee compensation and Sh452.81 million on operations and maintenance. Similarly, the County Assembly spent Sh139.82 million on employee compensation and Sh294.98 million on operations and maintenance,” says the report.

Turkana County spent Sh1.08 billion (99 percent of authorised funds) on recurrent activities.

In Nakuru, Ms Kihika spent Sh1.71 billion on salaries, Sh1.18 billion on operations and maintenance, and Sh13.1 million (0.45 percent) on development.

This means that for every shilling Ms Kihika put into development, she spent Sh220 on salaries and other recurrent activities.

In Makueni, out of the Sh1.1 billion that Mr Kilonzo spent between July and September, only Sh1.3 million (0.1 percent) went to development. This means that for every Sh1 he put into the development, he set aside Sh845 to pay county employees and run county offices.

In Bungoma, Mr Lusaka, who is the immediate former Speaker of the Senate, spent Sh10.4 million out of Sh1.7 billion during the three months on development.

Of the Sh904 million spent in Turkana County during the three months, 89.5 percent catered for salaries.

Kisii Governor, Simba Arati, spent Sh1.36 billion (79.6 percent of the entire Sh1.7 billion spending during the quarter) on personal emoluments in the first quarter of the financial year.

In total, 10 counties spent at least two-thirds of their budgets for the quarter on paying workers, meaning residents will have to wait longer for various development priorities.

Overall, spending on development by all 47 counties during the three months constituted 10.2 percent of the total budget.

The counties spent Sh67.47 billion between July and September, using only Sh6.9 billion on development while recurrent spending gobbled up the remainder.

Salaries and allowances for the 47 counties took up Sh41.8 billion, which is 62 percent of the total spending.

“The combined county governments’ budgets approved by the County Assemblies amounted to Sh534.63 billion and comprised Sh188.13 billion (35.2 percent) allocated to development expenditure and Sh346.51 billion (64.8 percent) for recurrent expenditure,” the CoB observed in the report.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story reported that only nine governors did not spend on development. The story omitted Homa Bay County. The number has since been updated to 10. We regret the error.