Nyeri Governor, Mutahi Kahiga, has a hinted at possible shutdown of all county operations starting Friday this week owing to delayed funding from the National Treasury.
Mr Kahiga says that the continued delay to release the Sh 94 billion owed to the devolved units is hampering service delivery. He said that due to lack of money to fund operations, the county will be sending home county staff until such a time when money will be availed by the exchequer.
“We will be left with no choice but to shut down these counties and to release the county work force to stay home until the money is availed because some of our workers do not have fare to report to work,” said Mr Kahiga.
The county receives money every financial year from the National Treasury. According to the county boss, the last time the county received money from treasury was in March this year.
The governor who was speaking in his office yesterday said that Nyeri, like the other 46 counties is yet to receive allocations for three months despite reassurances from the Treasury Cabinet Secretary, Prof Njuguna Ndung’u on May 2 that the March and April allocations would be in the accounts by mid this month.
“As we speak, counties are owed Sh 94 billion by the National Treasury. This amount is Sh 29.6 billion for March, Sh 31 billion for April and Sh 33 billion for May. The money was supposed to remit to the counties by the 15 of the month of May but we haven’t received it,” said the governor.
In addition to delayed salaries and piling pending bills owed to contractors, the Nyeri Governor said that some of the critical services such as healthcare have been hard hit by the cash crunch.
He said that county governors were bracing themselves for a health workers strike even as counties were struggling to replenish their medical supplies due to lack of funding. He also noted that bank overdraft was no longer a feasible option due to the high interest rates that would leave counties in deeper debts.
“For every a Sh 100 we borrow from the bank we have to repay with Sh 14 as interest,” he said.
“We might be able to pay salaries for the county workers but we still have contractors who we are not able to pay due to these delays,” said Mr Kahiga.
On May 2, the Council of Governors led by the chair Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru agreed to shelf plans to shut down counties following reassurances by Prof Ndung’u that Treasury would ensure the timely disbursement of all County allocations as per the disbursement schedule.
The Kirinyaga governor noted that the two parties had agreed on a strategy to ensure the March allocations will be disbursed by May 15 and April allocations by the end of May. The disbursement for May and June was to be released within the first two weeks of June to allow Counties to absorb these resources within the financial year.
“According to the law, the National Treasury upon collecting tax, should repay debt first and then remit the equitable share of revenue which should not be less than 15 per cent. The last time we received money as counties was in March of this year. This time we should be taken seriously when we say we will shut down these counties,” stated the Governor.
By Wangari Mwangi