Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga has renewed calls for the National Government to fast-track the release of all pending devolved functions to counties.
Similarly, the Governor wants the transfer of these functions to go in tandem with release of their assets to enable the county governments deliver services.
Kahiga has argued that a majority of the counties were still struggling to raise their own source revenue therefore taking up additional functions without required funding from the national government that was pushing the counties into a financial crisis.
“We ask that those functions be devolved together with the requisite funds one of them that we are awaiting is the library function. One of the biggest challenges we continue to experience is that a lot of the money is left unutilized at the National Treasury,” stated Kahiga.
“It is unfortunate that functions such as Early Childhood Development were devolved with no monies and we therefore have to look for funds. We are also struggling because there was a Sh 2 billion conditional grant for Vocational Training Centres which was given to all counties and we as governors are insisting that they should be brought back so that we are able to perform our functions,” he added.
Some of the key devolved functions include health, agriculture, cooperatives and tourism.
Kahiga was speaking in his office when he assented to a Sh 7.6 billion supplementary budget for 2022/2023 financial year. The budget is a Sh 300 million reduction from the one passed by the county assembly in June this year.
In the revised budget, Sh 5.3 billion will go towards the county’s recurrent expenditure while Sh 2.2 billion has been set aside for development. The Governor has attributed the deficit to the cost cutting measures which were recommended by the National Treasury as a way of curbing government’s spending.
“The supplementary budget has realized a shortfall of about Sh. 300 million from what we had anticipated in the first budget. The cost cutting measures at the National Treasury has led to quite a number of reductions in the conditional grants that come through donors,” said the Governor.
The adjustments leave the executive with seven months to actualize the 10-figure budget. According to the Finance, Economic Planning and ICT Executive, Dr Robert Thuo, the county is expecting to raise Sh 700 million in revenue which will go towards funding part of the 2022/2023 financial year budget. The county will also be banking on the Sh 6.2 billion equitable share from the National Treasury to actualize it.
Some of the biggest gainers in the supplementary budget include the Health Department which was allocated Sh 382 million for development as well as the Department of Agriculture with a Sh 355 million allocation.
The Members of County Assembly (MCAs) allocated Sh 492 million to the Department of Transport, Public Works, Infrastructure and Energy which will take the lion’s share of the money with the governor noting that priority will go towards completion of development projects initiated before the August elections.
“I want to urge the executive to hit the ground running. My appeal is that all ongoing or outstanding projects are completed first before we can undertake new projects whether the MCA was thrown out or not. We cannot afford to waste public resources because we have changed our priorities,” stated Kahiga.
By Wangari Mwangi and Kiama Wamutitu