Projects ignored, counties splurged on staff in '19-20 - Beaking Kenya News

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Monday, 12 October 2020

Projects ignored, counties splurged on staff in '19-20


A new report has revealed how the counties went into overdrive hiring staff, spending nearly half of their budgets on salaries in the last financial year.

The report by Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang'o indicates counties nearly abandoned development. They channelled a huge portion of resources towards staff emoluments and other nonessentials such travel and fuelling vehicles.

The budget implementation review report for 2019-20 also shows counties' pending bills continued to soar as their own-source revenue continued o dwindle. 

The report comes at a time the counties are expected to start getting cash from the Treasury after months of a cash crisis brought about by a stalemate in the Senate.

It puts the governors, who had rdered shutdown of the counties due to lack of funds, on the spot for their expenditures and high recruitment of staff.

According to the report, the counties spent Sh171.83 billion on personnel emoluments – about 44.8 per cent of their total expenditure. Another Sh106.23 billion went towards operations and maintenance, including fuelling of vehicles, repairs and staff tea.

This left only Sh104.51 billion for development.

That amount represented an absorption rate only 55.6 per cent of the annual development budget. This is a decline from 57.8 per cent reported in 2018-19 when development expenditure was Sh107.44 billion.

The expenditure on personnel emoluments increased by Sh9.06 billion from the previous year.

The Public Finance Management Act stipulates that the counties should not spent more than 35 per cent of their budgets on staff emoluments.

“County Governments should ensure expenditure on Personnel Emoluments is contained at sustainable levels and in compliance with Regulation 25 (1) (b) of the Public Finance Management (County Governments) Regulations, 2015,” the report read.

Some governors have been accused of hiring an excessive number of advisers and creating nonexistence positions to accommodate their allies.

"There are so many layers of employment going on now in the counties. I was amused to read the other day that my governor has 168 casual workers working in his office," Senator Moses Wetang'ula said.

The governor of Bungoma is Wycliffe Wangamati.

"One hundred sixty-eight casual workers in the governor's office. Where do they sit in the first place? What do they do? Where are their names? You cannot find them and yet they are paying them every month," etang'ula said.

The report revealed only 11 counties reported personnel emoluments' expenditure within the maximum allowed limit of 35 per cent of their total revenue during the year under review.

They are Mandera, Kwale, Nakuru, Lamu, Narok, Tana River, Uasin Gishu, Kilifi, Nyandarua, Marsabit and Kericho.

Nairobi spent Sh13.24 billion on payment of staff – the highest among the 47 counties. It was followed by Nakuru (Sh5.71 billion), Mombasa (Sh4.93billion), Meru (Sh4.95 billion) and Turkana (Sh4.63 billion).

The five counties are some of the big spenders on MCAs’ sitting allowances and travel by both the executives and the county assemblies.

Governor Mike Sonko's administration spent Sh80.06 million on the 124 MCAs’ sitting allowances. Domestic and foreign travel consumed Sh411.77 and Sh149.48 million, respectively.

Nairobi spent only Sh1.98 billion out of Sh8.8 billion set aside for development during the year under review.

Nakuru spent only Sh4.12 out of the Sh10.98 billion development budget and spent Sh71.15 million on sitting allowances for 79 MCAs. It spent Sh264.91 million and Sh109.3 million on domestic and foreign travel for the county assembly and the executive. respectively.

And as the counties spend the billions, the report reveals  their pending bills continued to balloon as they relied excessively on the Exchequer for funds.

The pending bills stood at Sh113.85 billion as of June 30 this year, despite President Uhuru Kenyatta’s express order more than a year ago to all county and national government bodies to clear their debts.

The reported pending bills exclude Isiolo, Kirinyaga, Marsabit, Mombasa and West Pokot that failed to submit pending bills reports to the Controller of Budget. Only Mandera reported no pending bills.

“While Mandera county did not have any outstanding pending bills as at June 30, Nairobi county reported the highest pending bills of Sh78.7 billion, representing 69.1 per cent of total outstanding pending bills by county governments.

Other counties with major debts are Kiambu (Sh4.51 billion), Kwale (Sh2.84 billion), Meru (Sh1.9 billion) and Laikipia (Sh1.87 billion).

The report comes at the time the counties are expected to start getting cash from the Treasury after months of a cash crisis brought about by a stalemate in the Senate.

It put the governors, who ordered shutdown of the devolved units due to lack of funds, on the spot for their expenditures and high recruitment of staff.

During the year, the counties collected Sh35.77 billion, representing 65.2 per cent of annual target of Sh54.9 billion.

This was a decrease compared to Sh40.30 billion generated in 2018-19, which was 74.8 per cent of the annual revenue target.

Nairobi generated the highest amount of own-source revenue at Sh8.72 billion, followed by Mombasa and Nakuru at Sh3.26 billion and Sh2.55 billion, respectively.

Counties that generated the lowest amounts were West Pokot, Tana River and Wajir at Sh107.18 million, Sh64.47 million and Sh60.42 million, respectively.

“On the contrary, counties that recorded below 50 per cent against annual targets were Meru, Nandi, Busia, Siaya, Wajir, Kajiado, and Kisii,” the report reads.

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