Enough is enough!
This was the shocking proclamation made on 3rd September 2020 by the Council of Governors as they announced that they had shut down and suspended all County Governments services in the country. This was a culmination of an intense public war between the County Governments on one side, and the Senate and National Treasury on the other, over the release of funds for Financial Year 2020/2021.
For a period of three long months, the County Governments and the National Treasury had been entangled in a long-drawn battle over the number of funds to be released to the County Governments. The County Governments decried the delay of approval of the County Allocation of Revenue Act 2020 by Parliament as an attack on devolution and blamed it on their inability to effectively provide services. They demanded a total release of allocated funds for both development and recurrent expenditures, saying employees in Counties had not been paid their salaries for three months.
On 20th January 2021 National Treasury disbursed 24.6 billion shillings to County Governments, bringing it to a total of 133 billion shillings released for the FY 2020/2021. Of this staggering amount, 120.2 billion shillings were transferred as part of equitable share and 13 billion shillings as conditional grants.
The National Government, reeling from the economic devastation occasioned by the global pandemic Covid 19, had managed to raise just a part payment of what it owed the Counties. Understandably, Cabinet Secretary, National Treasury, and Planning Ukur Yatani were keen and concerned about the proper usage of these meager resources. The CS appealed to the County Governments to make full and timely use of the funds and prioritize payment of pending bills. His concern for the welfare of Kenyans in resource utilization was evident, to quote him, ‘the National Treasury and Planning will prioritize disbursement of funds to County governments, noting their obligations of service delivery to the Kenyan citizens,’ he said in a statement as he announced the disbursement of the funds. As the CS was making this announcement, as of 13th January 2021, the National Government had fallen behind by a whole two months and the remaining balance of County funds balance at the Central Bank of Kenya stood at 34.6 billion shillings. Clearly, the National Treasury CS had overstretched himself to meet the needs of Kenyans in dire economic straights over the effects of Covid 19 on their pockets and livelihood. Despite the effects of Covid 19, the National treasury had prioritized disbursement to County’s governments to clear the arrears.
It, therefore, behooves those entrusted with the funds to be careful to utilize the funds for the intended purposes. However, some errant officials had other ideas.
The County Governments decried the delay of approval of the County Allocation of Revenue Act 2020 by Parliament as an attack on devolution and blamed it on their inability to effectively provide services. They demanded a total release of allocated funds for both development and recurrent expenditures, saying employees in Counties had not been paid their salaries for 3months.
Despite the cry by County governments for increased allocation of funds from the national cake, Kenyans are worried by recent increased reports of massive loss of funds at the counties through corruption. It now begs the question; did we devolve corruption to the counties?
In the midst of the high drama fight over resources, it has now emerged that not all had interests of the Kenyans at heart. On 12th January, the Meru High Court issued EACC with orders to freeze Sh46m in bank accounts belonging to 5 companies who had been fraudulently paid by the Isiolo County Government on 22-Dec 2020 for the supply of foodstuffs and hire of motor vehicles by the former Governor’s office.
On 24th December 2020, EACC obtained the orders to freeze the accounts after receiving information that the Isiolo Government Officials in collusion with the suppliers-contractors had processed the irregular payments for these services that were never rendered.
The MAT agencies have now focused their attention on the County Governments and should not relent to stem corruption at the buds before it entrenches its roots in the counties. Kenyans too have said, “Enough is Enough” on corruption.