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.
He argued that the reduction on allocation to the two sectors was misplaced and counterproductive because fisheries and Tourism were the economic mainstay of the local communities.
He told KNa during an interview in Amu Island, Mohammed 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 Kshs 4.4 billion 2020/2021 budget with the Water department receiving a development budget allocation of Kshs 204 million for water projects already being carried out across water insecure areas such as Faza, Kiunga, Barsuba and Mokowe.
Trade and Tourism however received Kshs 14 million for its development budget with the Public Accounts Committee chairman adding that there is a dire need to improve the sector which has been particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 crisis with several hotels closed and staff laid off.
Livestock and Fisheries will receive a Kshs 17 million allocation 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 the COVID-19 crisis.
“The county executive has gone ahead and allocated Kshs 144 million for water piping which is being carried out using standard conduit pipes which are prone 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 have audit queries over misuse of funds.
He added that the county despite a 17 percent development budget being spent on health had failed to put in place funds to tackle the current COVID-19 crisis.
Sentiments echoed by fellow nominated MCA Amina Kale who stated the county executive has failed to prioritise key areas such as Tourism, and fishing that are ailing due to the lack of adequate investment in the two sectors.
“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 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 unprocedurally, with water sources in some instances yet to be identified.
However, 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 to address the chief concerns of Lamu residents.
“Our administration realizes that unless we resolve our health systems through Universal Health care Coverage through our Kshs 200 million NHIF plan for 20,000 households, Water for all in Lamu, through the Kshs 204 million water piping and installation project and Kshs 120 million for bursaries and scholarships, Lamu will continue to be a backwater county,” he said.
By Amenya Ochieng