Rejection of Kisumu county government Sh.10 billion budget proposal by the Assembly last month has opened the Pandora’s Box with a section of stakeholders laying blame squarely on the simmering differences between the Executive and Members of the County Assembly (MCAs).
First to react to the move was Kisumu Deputy Governor (DG), Dr. Mathew Owili who accused the Assembly Speaker, Onyango Oloo of having spearheaded the scheme aimed at undermining the executive and frustrating timely execution of development projects.
Dr. Owili said the move has brought to a standstill the county governments’ operations and could have devastating consequences moving forward into the 2019/20 financial year when the expectation of local residents have been hyped to the highest levels.
However, the DG sought to explain that Kisumu County Assembly has only deferred debate on the budget estimates although they were still waiting for the official communication from the Speaker before charting the way forward.
This elicited claims by the Assembly and Executive with Dr. Owili firing the first salvo that Oloo (Speaker) was pushing for Sh600million to be factored into the budget to facilitate the construction of a new County Assembly Chamber and offices thus the rejection.
In a quick rejoinder Oloo responded that the ceiling for the construction of the Assembly remains Sh.500 million. He added “we shall therefore not be pushed to massage the ego of an individual”.
Investigations by KNA has since unearthed some of the underlying issues as the complete disregard of the County Governments’ Appropriation Bill which enables the respective devolved units do supplementary budgets where necessary.
Article 224 of County Appropriation Bills in the Constitution of Kenya with focus on budgets and spending states “on the basis of the Division of Revenue Bill passed by Parliament under article 218, each county government shall prepare and adopt its own annual budget and appropriation Bill in the form, and according to the procedure prescribed in an Act of Parliament.”
The lingering question is what options the County Government headed by Governor Prof. Anyang’ Nyong’o has considering that pundits contend that the earliest the executive could bring back the budget proposal for approval in the assembly is after three months yet residents expect services.
The other issue of concern is the fact that all Chief Officers in Kisumu County Government have been declared as being in office illegally and today’s Daily Nation advertised various positions (Page 17) and specified cadres to be filled.
Among the positions were in the department of governance and administration which had nine posts, including that of County Secretary, Chief Officers: Governance and Administration, Strategy Policy and Delivery as well as Information and Public Communication.
Also listed for competitive sourcing included Chief Officers: Roads and Public Works, Marine Transport and Mechanical Engineering, Agriculture and Irrigation, Livestock and Fisheries, Tourism Culture and Arts, Sports Management, Water and Sewerage Services, Environment and Natural Resources, Education and ICT, Women Social Services, Youth and Persons with Disability (PWDs), Business Cooperative and Marketing, Energy and Industrialization and finally Lands Survey and Physical Planning.
Also affected are various directors but the major concern is the fact that all the positions still have officers serving in the various cadres thus raising sharp reaction from various quarters who questioned the rationale of seeking to replace even the permanent and pensionable directors.
Those interviewed by KNA but requested their names to be concealed wondered what their fate would be following the advertisement of their posts even as a section maintained that all Chief Officers were illegally in office.
Also flagged for possible investigations by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) alongside the top-notch political appointees like the County Secretary, Dr. Olango Onudi, the Governor’s Communication Director, Alloys Ager, Director of Protocol, Bob Madanje, Abala Wanga who is the political advisor and CEO of Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) and George Omondi who is the Economic Adviser to Prof. Nyong’o.
Challenged to explain the beef they had against Dr. Onudi, Ager, Madanje, Wanga and Omondi the source argued that the journalist would rather ask the named to state their payroll numbers and when they underwent suitability test before they were assigned to the positions.
“According to the County Governments’ Act 17 (2012) section 45(1) , the Governor shall nominate qualified and experienced county chief officers from among persons competitively sourced and recommended by the Public Service Board and with the approval of the County Assembly appoint County Chief Officers”.
All eyes are now focused on the Executive and County Assembly to see who will blink first as the public waits for the bold step towards solving the stalemate which threatens to bring service delivery to a standstill unless something is done and done fast to ensure passing of the budget proposal.
By Joseph Ouma/ Owiti Cynthia