Paralysis threat as CoG demands cash

Written by on 7 October 2022

Council of Governors (CoG) yesterday warned of a disastrous paralysis in the 47 counties after the national government failed to disburse billions of money allocated to them.

Despite facing a litany of challenges including a biting drought, the governors said they had not received funds to ensure they remained operational.

They have not received Sh52 billion to discharge some of its most critical functions putting them in a difficult situation as they begin their new terms in office, they said.

The money was supposed to be released in August and September but by yesterday the devolved units had not received it.

CoG chaired by Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru yesterday held a crisis meeting at its Delta House offices in Nairobi where they agreed to demand for the disbursement of the funds by next Monday.

They said they had not paid salaries for the two months and had also not purchased important medical supplies putting Kenyans at risk of failing to get medical attention in the hundreds of health centres under the counties.

“So far, the continued delay in disbursement of funds has paralyzed county government operations,” Waiguru said after the meeting.

After taking over power in September, President William Ruto promised to ensure timely disbursement of billions allocated to counties saying the era of delays had ended. The governors said they had not received Sh20 billion for August and Sh32 billion for September. They are also yet to get Sh30 billion for this month’s warning they were no longer able to operate as required by the law.

Ravaging drought

Hundreds of key projects under them have also stalled. They also said they were not able to respond to the ravaging drought that has affected millions of Kenyans. 

Waiguru asked the National Treasury to release the funds by Monday saying further delay risked a total shutdown. 

“The delays and the unpredictable disbursements of funds have a negative impact on service delivery and Counties run the risk of accruing pending bills. The Council, therefore, calls upon the National Treasury to release all the outstanding disbursements to Counties on or before Monday,” she said.

The governors’ fresh demands have piled pressure on Ruto’s government to act faster to ensure it gets going. It is yet another crisis that the new President must handle as he seeks to stamp authority early on in his tenure.

He is however yet to appoint a substantive National Treasury Cabinet Secretary to be in charge of the nation’s coffers as the National Assembly is yet to vet his appointee for the position, former Central Bank Governor Njuguna Ndung’u.

While acknowledging the financial quagmire the three-week-old administration had found itself in, the governors said they were bound to ensure their units operate, demanding they be financed as required by the law.

“While we are cognizant that we are in a new political dispensation, as County Governments we are duty bound to provide smooth and uninterrupted service delivery to every citizen. However, the Council is concerned that despite being in the midst of transition, the current financial situation across the 47 County Governments is devastating,” the Chairperson said.

The county bosses also said a Sh28 billion Conditional Allocation for the last financial year had not been released the same as Sh37 billion for this year.

Additional allocations

They demanded MPs hasten the passage of the County Governments Additional Allocations Bill, 2022 which is key to the distribution of the conditional funds.

“We urge the National Assembly and Senate to prioritize the re-introduction of the Bill to facilitate disbursements of conditional allocations to counties. This will enable completion of stalled development projects in essential sectors such as Health, Agriculture, Roads and Climate Change,” the governors said in the statement.

The governors have also agreed to hold a biennial devolution conference as opposed to the yearly event held last 10 years.

The first biennial will be held in August 2023 under the theme, “Ten Years of Devolution: The Present and the Future”.

“The Conference will mark the end of the Annual series of Conferences and the beginning of the biennial Devolution Conferences. This will enable full implementation of resolutions by stakeholders in the devolution space,” revealed Waiguru.

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