Counties must use extra funds prudently

Thursday, February 11th, 2021 00:00 |
The National Treasury building. Photo/PD/Alice Mburu

An agreement was yesterday reached that county governments will be allocated an additional Sh53.5 billion in the 2021/2022 financial year.

Under the deal brokered by the Intergovernmental Budget and Economic Council, the devolved units will get an accumulated amount of Sh409.88 billion during the period. 

The figure comprises an equitable share of Sh370 billion, conditional allocations from the share of National Government revenue of Sh7.53 billion and another portion from proceeds of loans and grants by development partners to the tune Sh32.34 billion.

The announcement by the Council is a welcome sigh of relief as it forestalls what would have been a vicious war in the Senate, over distribution of revenue to the counties.

Indeed, a section of senators had on Tuesday warned that they would resist attempts by the National Treasury to reduce the allocation from Sh370 billion agreed by the Senate last year after a four-month stalemate.

Though the financial needs of the counties continue to escalate in the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, Sh409. 88 billion is a reasonable allocation - by any measure.

It should end the usual irritating din for more cash from the regional governments which is often blamed for poor service delivery.

This also raises the issue of prudence, accountability and integrity in the use of the funds. First, county governments hardly declare the utilisation of source revenue.

The tendency is for governors to look up to the National Treasury for cash. Secondly, there is the question of priority.

Gloomy stories have been written of theft and wasteful spending of taxpayers’ money in unproductive workshops, meaningless trips and dubious allowances to county officials.

Two governors have been impeached over graft, while five others have been dragged to court to face theft-related charges.

In particular, procurement has become a lucrative avenue for county leaders and their bureaucrats to award multi-million shilling business deals to their relatives and cronies in questionable circumstances.

The Constitution assigns the sub-nationals to oversee important functions including Agriculture, Health, Trade, Early Childhood Education, Water and Sanitation.

It must be emphasised that the money allocated must be directed to these core functions.

That is why we are calling for greater vigilance by wananchi and organs mandated to oversight county governments, particularly the Senate and Ward Reps, to rise to the occasion and ensure  the funds are used prudently to transform lives and provide essential services.

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