Report wants more cash for county governments

Thursday, October 22nd, 2020 00:00 |
CoG chair Wycliffe Oparanya (centre) flanked by his colleagues. Photo/PD/File

Mercy Mwai @wangumarci

Governors have scored big after the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report proposed an increase in the allocation to counties from the current 15 per cent to 35 per cent of the total shareable revenue.

In the report released yesterday, the BBI team said the move would strengthen devolution and ensure county governments have adequate funds to carry out their operations.

The report, however, proposes that in order to expand the criteria for determining equitable share and eradicate pilferage of public resources, there is need to ensure the average amount of money allocated per person to a county with highest allocation does not exceed three times the average amount per person allocated to a county with the lowest allocation.

“Clause 44 of the Bill proposes to amend Article 203 (Equitable share and other financial laws) to increase the percentage of funds allocated to county governments from 15 per cent to 35 per cent to strengthen devolution and ensure that county governments have adequate funds to carry out their operations,” reads the report in part.

The move comes at a time when the Council of Governor (COG) has been pushing for more allocations to the devolved units. 

The council has  been pushing for an increment from the current 15 per cent to 45 per cent.

In the current financial year, out of the Sh3 trillion 2020/2021 budget, 84.5 per cent of the revenue has been allocated to the national government, 15 per cent to the 47 counties and 0.5 per cent to the Equalisation Fund.

The 15 per cent is expected to cater for primary education, health services, feeder roads and services such as water, with counties expected to generate additional revenue.

Additionally, the report also proposes the creation of a Ward Development Fund (WDF) that will be getting five per cent of all the county government’s revenue each financial year.

Members of the County Assembly through the County Assembly Forum (CAF) have been pushing for the creation of the fund to develop their wards.

In a proposal they presented in February this year during a retreat in Naivasha, the MCAs said they want to use the ward development fund, similar to the Constituency Development Fund, to finance projects in villages. They had proposed to be allocated 45 per cent of the total budget allocated to counties.

In 2017, Jubilee Deputy Chief Whip in the Senate Irungu Kang’ata drafted a bill seeking to introduce a Sh21.8 billion development fund for all wards.

Despite the report pushing for more resources for counties, it  raises concern that various obstacles have hindered the devolved units from meeting the needs of Kenyans because of wastage of resources and theft, divergent views on the revenue allocation formula, spending that has failed to trickle down to the grassroots, poor planning, misdirected priorities, inadequate capacity to implement budgets, and ineffective oversight mechanisms.

County executives

“Other concerns on devolution were that recruitment in counties be streamlined and there be clear appointment procedures, clear removal procedures and well-defined roles for each position,” reads the report. 

On the appointment of county executives, the report calls for the empowerment of county public service boards by ensuring they are operational and financially autonomous in such a way that they will be able to conduct County-based human resource needs assessment.

“Limit arbitrary, nepotistic or crony recruitment of human resources that ignores merit and inclusivity.

It is proposed that the independence of the Public Service Commission should be replicated at the County level,” adds the report. 

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