Governors have blamed their inability to invest in development projects in their counties on irregular disbursements of funds by the National Treasury.
They said Treasury’s failure to comply with the disbursement schedule had affected the timely implementation of county programmes.
They were responding to a report by Controller of Budget (CoB) Margaret Nyakang’o accusing them of violating the law that requires a minimum of 30 per cent of the county government’s budget to be allocated to development expenditure.
The report states that, while no county met the legal threshold to commit at least 30 per cent of resources to the development budget, nearly half breached the requirement to levels of nearly 4,000 per cent.
Speaking on the sidelines of a Council of Governors meeting at the Pride Inn Flamingo Hotel in Mombasa, Nandi Governor Stephen Sang said counties were more focused on paying salaries.
“The CoB is sensationalising things but counties are making progress. If the resources were available to us, we would spend more on development,” he said.
Top 10 counties
The top 10 counties, according to the CoB report, spent between Sh12 and Sh20 on recurrent expenditure for every shilling put into development, way beyond the Sh2.33 legal threshold.
They are Kiambu whose governor is Kimani Wamatangi (Sh19.9), Kitui whose governor is Julius Malombe (Sh19), Bungoma whose governor is Ken Lusaka and Makueni County of Mutula Kilonzo Jr (Sh17).
Governor Kilonzo Jr said counties are grappling with cash flow problems that have crippled services and stalled projects.
“There is a backlog in disbursements to counties with the last coming in November last year,” he said, adding that, to keep services running and avoid strikes by workers, governors have had to ensure that salaries are paid on time.
Mr Kilonzo Jr said he was forced to negotiate with the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority to supply drugs to his county despite failing to pay the agency for supplies made last June.
He urged Parliament to compel Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u to comply with the disbursement schedule set out by the Senate.
“We should get our disbursement by the 15th of every month. [Prof Ndung’u] should tell us what we need to do when he releases funds four months late. Counties are now owed Sh97 billion,” said Mr Kilonzo Jr.
Senate Speaker Amason Kingi lamented delays in releasing funds to counties, saying, it is hurting devolved units.
“Delays and inadequate allocation for devolved functions have for years stood out as the biggest threats to devolution,” said Mr Kingi.
“It also nourishes the ogre of pending bills that is currently the waking nightmare of most, if not all, county governments. This calls for robust engagements between the Council of Governors, National Treasury and Parliament on how disbursements to counties can be hastened,” said Mr Kingi.