Governors seek law change to free up cash

Thursday December 7 2017

Governors

Council of Governors Chairman Josephat Nanok (centre) during a media briefing in Nairobi on December 7, 2017. PHOTO | DAVE OPIYO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By Dave Opiyo
More by this Author

Forty five counties are unable to access Sh270 billion from the World Bank to develop their urban centres because the law bars them from getting funds directly from international lenders.

The Council of Governors has consequently approached the Senate to once again amend the County Allocation of Revenue Act, which was only assented to by President Kenyatta on Wednesday, to enable them to access the funds.

CASH-STRAPPED

President Kenyatta signed the bill into law, paving the way for the disbursement of Sh77 billion by the National Treasury to the cash-strapped counties to enable them to implement their development projects.

Governors had accused the State of sabotage, saying they had been compelled to seek loans from commercial banks to meet their needs, including paying workers’ salaries and buying drugs for their hospitals.

On Thursday, the Council of Governors chairman Josphat Nanok said: “The council would like to urge the Senate to quickly amend the Act to include the projected $22.3 million (Sh2.29 billion) for the next three years and $9 million (Sh927 million) for this financial year.”

He went on: “This will enable the county governments to proceed and budget for their respective allocations for the implementation of the urban programme.”

The Turkana governor, who spoke moments after chairing an extraordinary meeting that discussed a variety of issues, said the World Bank-funded project to be implemented under the Kenya Urban Support Programme is expected to be implemented in six years.

The bank envisages that if the law is successfully amended in January, counties will in February be expected to draw their supplementary budgets to include funds for the project as Treasury prepares for the release of the funds.

Should this happen, the funds should be in the counties’ bank accounts by March. 

“Therefore, as they develop their integrated development and other sectoral plans at the beginning of their respective regimes, this programme will contribute immensely to the fulfilment of the said plans,” noted Mr Nanok.

The Nation has established that World Bank representatives, who made a presentation during yesterday’s meeting at the council’s headquarters at Delta House, Nairobi, sought assurances from the governors that the funds would be spent prudently.

The bank representatives, however, gave preconditions that would facilitate the release of the funds: First, the county bosses are expected to ensure all their programmes aimed at urban infrastructure development are properly planned and budgeted for in line with the County Allocation of Revenue Act.

Second, the funds must be transferred from the County Revenue Funds in line with work plans and on a timely basis, and third, that the funds be accounted for transparently in line with the agreed conditions.

PROJECTS

“This, the World Bank representatives told us, will smoothen the pathway for future programmes directly supporting the counties,” a source, who attended the meeting but sought anonymity as he is not the council’s spokesperson, told Nation.

The programme, Nation further learnt, has been divided into three phases, with the first costing Sh3.1 billion ($30.3 million) and set to benefit all the 47 counties.

The second and third phases, costing Sh2.28 billion ($22.2 million) and  Sh25.4 billion ($247.5 million), would benefit at least 59 municipalities in 45 counties, excluding those in Nairobi and Mombasa.

“The eligible municipalities have been determined as follows; All the 45 county capitals as per the County Government Act and an additional 14 municipalities as per the Urban and Cities Act,” the source added. 

On Thursday, the governors also set up a committee to be chaired by Mr Nanok to spearhead peace in the country.

Part of the committee’s mandate, Mr Nanok said, would be to reach out to both President Kenyatta and Nasa leader Raila Odinga to help cool down political temperatures in the country.