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Counties spend more on salary, not growth

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, Deputy President William Ruto and Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya at the close of the Devolution Conference on Thursday /DPPS
Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru, Deputy President William Ruto and Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya at the close of the Devolution Conference on Thursday /DPPS

County governments are still spending more on salaries and personal benefits, leaving little for development.

During the 6th Devolution Conference that ended on Thursday in Kirinyaga, governors were put on the spot over pumping most of the county cash to maintain vehicles and pay salaries.

President Uhuru Kenyatta slammed county chiefs for spending county funds on salaries and personal benefits at the expense of development.

“In 2017-18, our county governments spent approximately 87.3 per cent of their entire budgets on recurrent expenditure. This left only a meagre 12.7 per cent for development,” he said.

Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo said in 2018-19, no county government allocated more funds to development compared to recurrent expenditure.

She said Nairobi had the highest expenditure on salaries and personal remunerations, at Sh4.27 billion. It was followed by Machakos and Kisumu.

The two spent Sh1.96 billion and Sh1.69 billion, respectively.

The Star previously reported that 24 counties did not spend any of the funds allocated on development. The remaining 23 spent Sh3.51 billion ( 6.9 per cent), an increase from Sh1.15 billion in 2017-18.

The percentages allocated to development violate an Act of Parliament that requires a minimum of 30 per cent of the total budget be channelled towards growth.

An analysis of personal benefits and salaries as a percentage of the total expenditure by county revealed that Garrisa, Baringo and Nakuru recorded the highest percentages at 91.8 per cent, 91.7 per cent and 90.4 per cent, respectively.

Odhiambo said county governments have been unable to generate enough of their own revenue to support their spending.

Counties were expected to raise an average of Sh50 billion from own source revenue for 2018-19.

They only generated Sh7.41 billion in the first quarter of 2018-19. This was 4.8 per cent of the annual target. Odhiambo said Nairobi generated Sh1.79 billion, the highest amount.

It was followed by Narok and Nakuru at Sh1.19 billion and Sh543.56 million, respectively.

Wajir, Tana River and Lamu raised the lowest amounts at Sh12.69 million, Sh9.52 million and Sh6.35 million, respectively, she said.

The Commission on Revenue Allocation attributed this poor performance to manual collection systems and failure to report all revenue collected at the county level.

Other reasons include unrealistic forecasts, non-compliance with payment of fees and property rates.

“Their actual revenue collection has remained volatile, not only missing targets but often less revenue is being collected in subsequent years,” the report reads.

The report accused counties of preparing unrealistic revenue forecasts as a balancing mechanism to meet requirements of a balanced budget.