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Sonko rejects bill giving Nairobi Metropolitan Services Sh15bn

Wednesday April 15 2020
By COLLINS OMULO

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko has declined to assent to a bill allocating more than Sh15 billion to the newly established Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) for transferred functions, escalating the push and pull between the two entities.

Governor Sonko referred Nairobi County Supplementary Appropriation Bill, 2020 back to the assembly, saying amendments in it contravened provisions of the law.

The bill was to become law on Thursday but Sonko's move sends the NMS and the assembly back to the drawing board.

In a letter to Speaker Beatrice Elachi, the governor argued that the assembly irregularly transferred and allocated the monies in the bill, even to functions that were never transferred to the new office.

He further said that the amendments by the assembly were done without the input of the county’s finance executive contrary to provisions of section 131 (2) of the Public Finance Management Act and section 21(3) of the County Governments Act.

“I do hereby refuse to assent to the bill for the reasons contained in the attached memorandum, and accordingly, I do hereby refer the bill back to the Assembly for consideration in accordance with section 24(3) (4) and (5) of the County Governments Act,” he said in an April 15 letter copied to Attorney-General Paul Kihara, the Controller of Budget and the Government Printer.

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ELACHI'S REACTION

However, Speaker Elachi said the “rejection” by the governor meant he did not need the budget for the year that he signed.

“It is his budget yet he says he has rejected it, meaning he does not need a budget. He should have just returned it with reservations,” said Ms Elachi.

She confirmed that her office had received the memorandum from the governor and would look into the reservations with the assembly’s lawyers before deciding on the next course of action.

“I was expecting it. If he cannot respect what he singed at State House then he should come out and say so, not open a fight with the assembly as we are only following the law,” she said.

MCA'S APPROVAL

On April 2, Nairobi MCAs approved the transfer of more than Sh15 billion to the NMS for the delivery of transferred functions falling under the new office, retaining figures approved in the annual budget estimates.

The legislators also agreed that some of the activities related to legal services, procurement, audit, inspectorate, sub county administration, ICT, public finance management and human resources be part of ancillary services transferred to the NMS.

However, the City Hall boss argued that the bill allocated funds to functions which were never transferred from the county government to the NMS.

He cited security and safety management; disaster management coordination; information and communication services; public financial management; and economic and financial policy formulation and management.

Others were public service transformation; general administrative services; food systems and surveillance, afforestation and animal health, safety and quality assurance.

NEED BASIS

Governor Sonko contended that the ancillary or support services were to be identified and transferred on a need basis after evaluation by the county's Public Service Board and the Public Service Commission.

“A review of the first schedule of the bill, submitted by the Speaker for my assent on the various monies appropriated by the assembly to NMS, provides for allocations of monies to functions which were never transferred to the NMS and still remain functions of Nairobi County,” he said.

Governor Sonko pointed out that the proposed allocations, as worded, were contrary to the Deed of Transfer of Functions, which provided for ancillary services but did not contemplate the whole outright transfer of the listed functions.

“Furthermore, I note that other ancillary services such as procurement, accounting, legal, enforcement services to support the transferred functions shall be determined based on a needs assessment by both the County Board and the Public Service Board,” said Mr Sonko.

SONKO'S RECOMMENDATIONS

In his recommendations, the governor proposed that a maximum of Sh520 million can be allocated under Emergency Fund in line with section 113 of the PFM Act which says that payments exceeding two percent of last audited accounts cannot be made out of the Fund.

“In the last audited accounts for the financial year ending June 30, 2019, the county reported a consolidated revenue of Sh26 billion and therefore, the maximum that may be provided under the Emergency Fund is Sh520,209,510,” he said.

In light of the above, he recommended that Sh500 million be appropriated to the fund for all emergencies, including the Covid-19, and any that any other funds be allocated under the preventive and promotive health services programme under the Health Services sector.

The assembly had allocated Sh1.025 billion for Covid-19-related interventions, Sh85 million being for ward-based interventions including purchase of hand sanitisers, masks and related items. Each of the 85 wards was assigned Sh1 million.

The remaining Sh940 million was to remain under the Emergency Fund for general health interventions related to the pandemic.

Further, Mr Sonko recommended that the county government retain the public finance management and economic and financial policy formulation and management.

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