Yatani promises to fast-track release of funds to counties
National Treasury has pledged to fast-track the release of equitable share of revenue to the counties as end of the current financial year draws closer.
Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani said the ministry hopes to end equitable revenue share stalemate by end of this month to address financial challenges in the devolved units.
Yatani attributed the delays to challenges in the various revenue streams since the outbreak of Covid-19 and consequent cessation of movement and curfews that have led to sources of revenue shrinking.
He, however, confirmed that in the last five months, revenue collections have surpassed target thereby stabilising the exchequer, adding the ministry is determined to ensure all pending bills are cleared by end of this month.
“We are now hitting targets in the last five months, as you know revenues were disrupted badly since last year, we are falling behind in terms of the exchequer not only for the County governments but also for some of the ministries but we are hoping to clear these balances by end of June,” the CS said.
Yatani spoke on the sidelines of two meetings with National Assembly’s Committee on Delegated Legislation and Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) management held at a Mombasa hotel.
Shortage of resources
His statement came after the Council of Governors (CoG) decried shortage of resources within the devolved units to fight Covid-19 and deal with raging floods and drought calamities that have continued to haunt Kenyans in various parts of the country.
The Council of Governors last month wrote to the National Treasury requesting the release of Sh66 billion owed to county governments.
Chairman Governor Martin Wambora urged the Treasury to release the funds to allow County governments to improve their response measures to the Covid-19, pay pending bills, and develop the counties.
According to the governor’s council, National Treasury has so far disbursed a total of Sh8.8 billion to County governments with the current outstanding amount owed to county governments being Sh82 billion.
Latest COG data shows that, Nairobi City County is owed Sh3.9 billion as arrears for month of February.
A total of Sh25 billion is owed to the 47 counties for the month of March, Sh28 billion owed to 47 counties for month of April and Sh25 billion owed to counties for month of May.
Yatani also hinted at formation of a committee composed of Council of Governors, national government, Controller of budget, Commission on Revenue Allocation to unlock about Sh30 billion that have been lying idle since the promulgation of the Constitution.
“As you know equalisation fund is 0.5 per cent of audited revenue, every year and therefore there has been accumulation and disbursement has been poorly done because of those poor core decisions,” said Yatani.
At the same time the CS said the appointment of a KPA managing director will be done soon after he expressed satisfaction with the latest nominees presented to him.
“That matter is with me and soon we will announce, there are no integrity concerns so far from the nominees,” confirmed Yatani.
He said the government is seeking a separate identity of the Mombasa and Lamu ports where each facility will have its own management to ensure efficiency.
“We are meeting to discuss matters of structure of management in the newly launched Lamu port, we are also looking at budget issues of the port on how we can buy new equipment to equip it, so that it can facilitate transshipment of cargo arriving at the port,” Yatani said.