Third Eye

Governors should put their finances in order

Friday, January 15th, 2021 00:00 |
Cash. Photo/PD/Courtesy

The Controller of Budget (CoB) has released a report on county finances covering the period from July to September 2020.

The report is depressing. That governors have been in the news pushing for more resources to be devolved is not new.

The county chiefs have used any opportunity to cajole, solicit or even demand more money from the national government for myriad reasons.

That is fine. More money to the counties should result in better services and development for the locals. However, the CoB’s report indicates the opposite.

In the quarter of July-September 2020, the total funds available to the devolved units amounted to Sh69.84 billion.

Of this, the counties generated a paltry Sh5.85 billion. This was a decrease compared to Sh7.71 billion generated in a similar period in 2019-2020.

The total expenditure by the devolved units in the first quarter of Financial Year 2020/21 was Sh38.17 billion, and represented an absorption rate of 8.8 per cent of the total annual County Government’s Budgets.

Expenditure by economic classification showed that Sh28.65 billion (75.1 per cent) was spent on personnel emoluments, Sh7.23 billion (18.9 per cent) on operations and maintenance, and Sh2.3 billion (six per cent) on development.

Surprisingly 22 counties did not report any expenditure on development during this period.

One of the reasons given is that counties did not file their reports on time with the CoB. 

In this time and age, counties are being asked to enhance capacity to ensure their reports are done on time.

It is appalling that basic accounting tenets are not being met by the regional governments.

The units do not have capacity to absorb budgets, because they have not implemented strategies for ensuring effective implementation of development.

The regional bosses should be held to account for this dis-service to the populace.

To finance the budgets, county governments expect to receive Sh316.5 billion as the equitable share of the revenue raised nationally, Sh23.16 billion as conditional grants from the national government, Sh30.20 billion as loans and grants from development partners, generate Sh53.02 billion from own revenue sources, and utilise Sh37.77 billion cash balance from the 2019-2020 financial year. 

These figures sound astronomical given the inadequacies exposed by the CoB’s report.

We call on regional governments to put their finances in order. Enhance own source revenues, absorb development funds and strike a balance between remuneration and development.

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