Senate team questions Mvurya over low expenditure in Kwale
The Senate County Public Accounts and Investment Committee (CPAIC) has questioned the need of increasing county budgetary allocations yet most of them return a surplus to the National Treasury after every financial year.
Speaking at Kwale County Assembly after summoning Governor Salim Mvurya over audit report queries, committee member Charles Kibiru said the rate of spending money, by most counties, given them by the national government to run projects is almost always low.
“It is becoming a tendency that counties want additional figures yet they cannot fully exhaust the little money given to operate and end up having a surplus instead,” said Kibiru.
The Senate team asked Mvurya to expound on the surplus issue given that Kwale county had an excess of Sh2.9 billion in two consecutive financial years of 2016/17 and 2017/18 collectively in its account.
Committee chair Moses Kajwang’ also questioned Mvurya for having low revenue collection of Sh2.29 billion, saying Kwale has mineral resources and a thriving tourism sector.
He said the county contributes a lot to the blue economy raising concern on the amount of revenue that has been presented to the committee. “The figures you are giving us are not convincing. We need some clarification on this, as far as we can recall this region has many potentials for revenue collection.”
He warned Mvurya that the county’s agenda might flop if they won’t generate enough revenue to boost their budget.
“I have read your vision that you want to be a competitive, industrialised and socioeconomically self-sustainable and secure county, but I am wondering how will you achieve that if you can only contribute two per cent of the budget,” he said.
Mvurya, however, told the committee that they are being unfair to judge the county’s capacity of revenue collection looking at the fact that sharing of royalties agreement has not been honoured by the National government.
He said since the devolution started royalties from mineral resources are sent directly to the Treasury.
He added that the tourism industry has been fluctuating over the years inconveniencing the county not to reap a lot from the sector. He said the national government had written letters restricting the county from taxing hoteliers.
“We used to tax hotels but frequent notices were sent by Tourism Trust asking why are were doing double taxation. So we need to open up some of those issues to enable us to harvest more,” he said.
On the extra cash found in the county account, Mvurya said the schedule of funds disbursement that is being used did not match counties’ operation system.
He said funds from national government often delay in reaching the county, marring implementation of local projects.
“There is a huge problem in the distribution of money. At some point everything has been budgeted but lack the means to execute simply because there are no funds,” said the governor.