A row is looming at City Speaker Elachi takes on Sonko over budget
David Ndolo and Hilary Mageka
A row is looming at City Hall after Speaker Beatrice Elachi yesterday faulted governor Mike Sonko’s refusal to assent to the county budget and backed the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS), which the county boss sought to deny cash.
In what reeks of a supremacy battle, Sonko on Wednesday refused to sign the Nairobi County Supplementary Appropriation Bill that allocates more than Sh15 billion to the newly-established city governing organ for its operations.
Sonko argues that he was not only sidelined in drafting the budget, but the authority created after the February transfer of some key functions from the county government had taken over ancillary services that had not been assigned to it under the agreement deed.
But Elachi yesterday rejected the governor’s assertion, saying the authority must be allocated enough resources to undertake the transferred functions.
“We must follow the Constitution which says that transferred functions must be followed by resources.
The NMS must be given resources to deliver. We don’t want to fight. We remind the governor that you require two thirds for you to do anything,” said Elachi.
The Speaker blamed the governor for Nairobi’s current leadership mess.
“We are where we are because of his signature. He transferred responsibilities under Article 187 of the Constitution.
If he wants the functions back, he must go back and renegotiate,” she said, adding that the cash row will now be solved by the Country Assembly Budget Committee, in a move that could overturn the Sonko decision.
Elachi accused Sonko of rejecting his own budget.
The bill passed by the Assembly on April 2 saw the office of the governor and his deputy lose Sh203 million following the takeover.
The bill also transferred ancillary services to NMS headed by Maj-Gen Mohammed Badi, including accounting, legal, supply chain and human resource.
“The blanket transfer of all the support functions to NMS will deny the remaining functions the same ancillary services they require to deliver services,” said Sonko in a letter to the County Assembly.
Sonko had earlier opposed the redeployment of over 6,000 workers from the county to NMS.
“The amendments by the Assembly to the bill that gives rise to these irregular transfers and allocation was done without the input of the Finance County Committee member contrary to provisions of Public Finance Management Act,” he added.
The city budget dispute could also be the subject of battle in Parliament after the Senate rejected a decision by the National Assembly to retain money meant for Nairobi City County at the Treasury for administration to the MMS.
But in Senators maintained Nairobi cash should be administered under County Revenue Fund.
The matter came up during debate during debate on the Division of Revenue Bill, which divides allocation between the national and county governments.
On Tuesday, Senators passed the Division of Revenue Bill, 2020 from the National Assembly albeit with amendments, that could trigger mediation.
The Senate rejected the retention of Sh15.9 billion equitable share for Nairobi City in the National government for expenditure by the NMS.
On their part, the National Assembly had reserved the entire amount for the implementation of the four-county functions transferred to the National government.
“The equitable share for Nairobi City County should, therefore, be set aside and arrangements put in place to ensure that the resources necessary for the performance of the functions are transferred pursuant to Article 187 (2) of the Constitution,” reads the Bill from the National Assembly.
On February 25, Sonko handed over four critical county functions to the National government in a ceremony presided over by President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, Nairobi.
Under the agreement, the national government will took over health, transport, public, utilities and ancillary services, planning and development functions.
While tabling the Division of Revenue Bill in the chamber, Finance, and Budget Committee chairman Senator Mohamed Mahamud (Mandera) warned that retaining monies meant for devolved units in the Consolidated Fund would violate the Public Finance Management Act and the Constitution.
“The Bill proposed the allocation for Nairobi be retained the in the Consolidated Fund and at the same goes ahead to allocate the city Sh15.9 billion,” he said.
Mahamud argued that allocation of monies to individual counties was purely the work of the Senate and faulted the National assembly for overstepping its mandate.