Nurses in Kitui on Tuesday joined striking County Government employees to protest against unpaid July salaries.
The aggrieved medics and county staff, who marched to Governor Charity Ngilu’s office, vowed to paralyze services in all hospitals and county government offices until their dues were paid.
Led by Union of Kenya Civil Servants Kitui Branch Secretary, Benjamin Munyalo and Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) official, Justina Mwalimu, the medics said they would only report back to work after their salaries reflect in their respective bank accounts.
“We have officially gone on strike until our July salaries are paid in full. We have instructed all unionists to vacate their work stations forthwith,” said Munyalo.
He also urged the State to revert payment of nurses’ salaries to the National Government to avoid salary-related crises which affected service delivery in public hospitals.
The county staff downed their tools last week following delays in payment of their July salaries which reportedly resulted from the ongoing standoff between the Senate and the National Assembly over the Division of Revenue Bill and subsequent failure by Exchequer to release funds to counties.
While the Senate proposes that counties should get Sh.335 billion from Treasury to run their affairs, the National Assembly has maintained that the figure should be trimmed down to Sh316 billion.
The Kitui County Senator, Enoch Wambua on Monday sounded an alarm warning, saying that he has written to the Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo seeking an explanation on how the county managed to exhaust funds meant for the June salaries for county staff.
“These workers are innocent people who have discharged their contractual obligations and are entitled to prompt, full and just compensation for their labour as and when the compensation falls due,” said Wambua.
The Senator said that the Executive’s argument that the salaries were not available because the County Assembly rejected the County Appropriation Bill, 2019 supplementary budget is proving of glaring incompetence, gross ignorance of the law and unbridled impunity in the Executive.
“How the Executive gobbled up staff salaries for the month of June is a classic lesson on blind leadership,” wondered Wambua.
On Thursday, June 27, 2019 the House rejected the Second Kitui County Supplementary Budget in its entirety, three days to the end of the financial year 2018/2019.
The Kitui County Assembly Speaker, George Ndotto said that the purpose for any supplementary budget is to allow for approved expenditure in unforeseen and unavoidable circumstances where no budget provision was made or unavoidable in circumstances where there is an existing budgetary provision.
Quoting the Public Finance Management Act 2012, Ndotto said that any county government may spend money that has not been appropriated if the amount appropriated for any purpose under the County Appropriations Act is insufficient or a need arises for expenditure for a purpose for which no amount has been appropriated by the Act.
“However, Sec 154 of the PFMA, 2012 prohibits an accounting officer from authorizing the transfer of an amount that is appropriated for capital expenditure except to defray other capital expenditure. In essence, the second supplementary budget had proposed reallocation of funds from development to recurrent expenditure which is illegal,” said the Speaker.
Further, the Speaker said that the county government’s expenditure on wages and benefits for its public officers shall not exceed 35 per cent of the county government’s total revenue.
Ndotto said that the supplementary budget in question exceeded this threshold which was another illegality.
“Therefore, because of these two reasons, the County Assembly which is the custodian of law in the county cannot be expected to approve any supplementary budget prepared against the law. It is an illegality and it was thus rejected,” pointed out the former legislator.
By Yobesh Onwong’a