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Counties collecting less revenue than defunct local authorities, senators claim

Wednesday March 25 2015

Senate County Public Accounts and Investments

Senate County Public Accounts and Investments Committee chairman Bony Khalwale at a committee sitting at Parliament buildings on August 14, 2014. FILE PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

DENNIS ODUNGA
By DENNIS ODUNGA
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The Senate is concerned that development in the counties could be slowed as most county governments are collecting less revenue compared with defunct local authorities.

The Senate County Public Accounts and Investment Committee, chaired by Dr Boni Khalwale, said failure by the devolved governments to seal corruption loopholes was to blame for the reduced revenue collection.

The senators blamed governors, blaming the dismal performance of the counties on unqualified staff hired by governors.

“The Senate will not tolerate complacency in the management of the counties. A lot of money is getting lost. Corruption is feeding on our inefficiency,” Dr Khalwale, who is the Kakamega Senator, said Wednesday.

The committee, which included senators Kimani Wamatangi (Kiambu), Muriuki Karue (Nyandarua), and Martha Wangari (nominated), had visited Taita-Taveta County.

The senators warned governors against wasting revenue collected in the counties in the guise that they were entitled to shareable revenue from the national budget.

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“What are you doing to raise more revenue and improve people’s lives as opposed to just salaries and allowances?” Senator Wamatangi asked.

REVENUE TARGETS

The senators took issue with information that Taita-Taveta County had collected only Sh100 million out of a targeted Sh401 million.

The meeting degenerated into a heated argument when the senators demanded to know why the county officials included Local Authority Transfer Funds as part of the revenue collected by the county.

They said the county received the fund from the national budget, just like the Constituency Development Fund, and it was wrong to factor them as part of collected revenue.

The County Executive Committee (CEC) member in charge of Finance and Planning, Dr Vincent Masawi, was at pains to explain why the county had set high revenue targets that they cannot meet hence affecting planning.

Taita-Taveta County Assembly's Public Accounts Committee chairman Omar Ahmed said cases of county officials using fake receipts had denied many counties millions of shillings in revenue.

“Court orders are frustrating our oversight roles. The CECs are seeking refuge in courts whenever we want to call upon them to account for public funds,” Mr Ahmed told the committee.