Meru County is banking on a higher allocation from the National Treasury to settle pending bills of more than Sh993 million in financial year 2019/20.
Counties are yet to know the equitable share they will receive due to the National Assembly's delay in enacting Division of Revenue Bill, 2019 and Counties Allocation of Revenue Bill, 2019.
For Meru, Treasury's Budget Policy Paper proposes Sh7.8 billion while the latter bill recommends Sh8.5 billion, a deficit of Sh700 million.
According to a report that Meru's budget director Charles Mwenda gave the assembly, the county had Sh2.88 billion in pending bills in 2018/19, including balances from 2016/17 and 2017/18.
Out of the Sh2.88 billion, Sh1.885 billion was factored into the 2018/19 financial year, leaving Sh993.4 million in pending bills unallocated.
“The balance will be provided for subject to an increase in equitable share in the next financial year. We hope the parliamentary mediation committee will settle for the amount higher than what is provided in the National Treasury Budget Policy Paper.” Mr Mwenda states.
While presenting the budget estimates on Thursday evening, Budget and Appropriations committee chairman Julius Mbijiwe called on the county treasury to prioritise payment of pending bills accrued in 2014/15.
“We expect the county to address the Sh993 million pending bills through the supplementary budget,” he said.
Mr Mbijiwe raised concern that the figure would likely rise to Sh1.6 billion by the end of this financial year due to failure to hit local revenue targets.
“The total collection as at June 20, 2019 was Sh518 million against a target of Sh1.1 billion. The Executive is yet to formulate effective strategies to settle pending bills as recommended by this House,” he said.
The MCAs passed a Sh10.5 billion budget with amendments amid calls for measures to cut the recurrent expenditure.
The county set aside Sh125 million for leasing vehicles and road construction machines to cut the costs of awarding contracts and maintenance.
Meru intends to spend Sh25 million on leasing vehicles for county officials and Sh100 million on leasing road work machinery from the national government’s Mechanical Transport Fund.
Mr Mbijiwe said, "The county is facing a problem with the Subaru vehicles in terms of age and the high cost of maintenance. It is conducting a cost-benefit analysis with a view to disposing some of the vehicles."
Gervarse King'ori, the county's, chair of the county's roads, public works and energy committee, said use of machines from the public works department to maintain roads was cheaper and economical.
“We did a benchmarking tour in Kisii and Nyandarua where they have set up a Mechanical Trust Fund for hiring machines from public works. We feel this is the way to go," he said.
"The machines will be used in maintain roads that cut across several wards. They are cheaper and efficient if county engineers supervise the work."
Other allocation were Sh900 million for the Ward Development Fund, Sh330 million for borehole drilling and Sh200 million for a solid waste management plant in Gakoromone.
There was also Sh50 million for community water projects, Sh30 million for two medical training colleges, Sh30 million for livestock development, Sh20.9 million for rehabilitation of Lake Nkunga and Sh20 million for supply of macadamia and avocado seedlings.