CASH STARVED

Governors threaten legal action, shutdown over delayed county cash disbursements

Devolved units demand Sh97 million from Treasury

In Summary

•The Council of Governors (COG) has threatened legal action to compel the National Treasury to release Sh94.7 billion meant for counties.

•In the letter to Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani, CoG chair Wycliffe Oparanya has also threatened shut down of county services to alleviate county employees who have not been paid for months from suffering.

Chairman of the Council of Governors Wycliffe Oparanya and other governors.
Chairman of the Council of Governors Wycliffe Oparanya and other governors.
Image: COURTESY

The Council of Governors (COG) has threatened legal action to compel the National Treasury to release Sh94.7 billion meant for counties.

In the letter to Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani, CoG chair Wycliffe Oparanya has also threatened shut down of county services to alleviate county employees who have not been paid for months from suffering.

“Please note that if the disbursement is not made forthwith, the county governments will have no option other than seek legal redress while closing down to minimize further damage and suffering to employees,”  

Oparanya lamented that counties have not received disbursements from the Treasury for four months, with some devolved units starved for five months now.

“We note with utmost concern that County Governments have not received disbursements for October, November, December 2020 and January, 2021,” reads the letter dated January the letter, dated January.

The Kakamega senator copied the letter to Controller of Budget (CoB) Margaret Nyakango, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi and his senate counterpart Kenneth Lusaka.

“Some of the Counties have not even received the September disbursement bringing the total balance to sh.94.7 Billion,” it adds.

Oparanya reiterated that the delayed disbursement has hindered service delivery during the wake of Covid-19 pandemic; when the County Governments are the expected to be at the frontline in offering health services.

In addition, County Government Civil Servants have not been paid salaries for the three months unlike their National Government counterparts who have been paid all their dues and statutory deductions made.

Article 219 of the Constitution as read together with section 17(6) of the Public Finance Management Act provide for the timely disbursement of the equitable share of revenue.

Notwithstanding the above, the Council notes that National Treasury has failed to disburse the same despite the stringent timelines set out in law.

“The delay in disbursement of these funds has negatively affected lives of County Government Civil Servants and service delivery in the following aspects; failure of payment to contractors, and failure of development budget implementation and failure of submission of statutory deduction,” he said.

This is so despite the fact that the Civil servants and Public Officers at National Government continue to receive their salaries in good time, Oparanya’s letter states.

“The purpose of this letter is to ask your office to urgently expedite disbursement of equitable share to County Governments to ensure uninterrupted service delivery,” he held.

This is not the first time the governors are threatening to shutdown services for delayed disbursement of cash by the Treasury.

In September last year, the county bosses shutdown crucial services over prolonged delays to receive the cash.

The Treasury has often blamed cash flow challenges to under collection of revenue by the taxman, a situation that has been worsened by the Covid 19 pandemic that has nearly hit all sectors of the economy.