The Lamu County Public Accounts Committee Chairman, Salim Mohammed has poked holes in the 2020/2021 Lamu Budget terming it as flawed over reduced allocations in tourism and fisheries despite the two being the economic mainstay of the county.
Speaking to KNA on Sunday in Amu Island, Mohammed further said that the county’s development budget was lopsided with more investments being made in water piping projects, which he said were prone to theft and corruption.
Lamu County last week passed its Sh.4.4 billion 2020/2021 budget with the Water department receiving a development budget allocation of Sh204 million for water projects already being carried out across water insecure areas such as Faza, Kiunga, Barsuba and Mokowe.
Trade and Tourism however received Sh.14 million for its development budget with the Public Accounts Committee chairman adding that there was a dire need to improve the sector which has been particularly hard hit by COVID-19 crisis with several hotels closed and staff laid off.
Livestock and Fisheries will receive a Sh.17 million for development, which is the second lowest development allocation despite the sector also teetering due to reduced fish sales and lack of export of fish due to COVID-19 crisis.
“The County Executive has gone ahead and allocated Sh.144 million for water piping which is being carried out using standard conduit pipes which are prone to leakages and are advisable for large piping projects as the one being carried out,” Mohammed opined.
He alleged that the water projects development budget would be prone to looting, due to lack of accountability by the current Lamu Water and Sewerage Company administration, which he added has audit queries over misuse of funds.
He added that despite a 17 percent development budget being spent on health, the county had failed to put in place funds to tackle the current COVID-19 crisis.
The sentiments were echoed by fellow nominated MCA, Amina Kale who stated the county executive has failed to prioritise key areas such as tourism, and fishing that were ailing due to the lack of adequate investment.
“Monies meant for COVID-19 has been diverted to the water projects, which clearly shows the lack of regard or concern by the governor to address the plight of tourism and fisheries industries in the county,” Kale said.
She further reiterated that the current LAWASCO team in charge of water projects was already under scrutiny, due to misuse of funds.
“Whenever we call the current LAWSCO CEO he dodges assembly inquiries, as he is not qualified to run the county parastatal,” she added.
She further noted that the water projects were being undertaken un-procedurally, with water sources in some instances yet to be identified.
However, the Lamu Governor, Fahim Twaha in a phone interview with KNA poured cold water on claims that the 2020/2021 budget was flawed, offering that it was aimed at addressing the chief concerns of Lamu residents.
“Our administration realizes that unless we resolve our health systems through Universal Health Care Coverage through our Sh.200 million NHIF plan for 20,000 households, water for all in Lamu, through the Sh.204 million water piping and installation project and Sh.120 million for bursaries and scholarships, Lamu will continue to be a backwater county,” he said.
By Amenya Ochieng