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Tough balancing as cash crunch hits counties

Wednesday September 12 2018

Devolution Conference

Council of Governors' Vice Chairperson Anne Waiguru addresses a news conference regarding the annual devolution conference, at Delta House, Nairobi, on April 12, 2018. Counties have been hit by acute cash crisis. PHOTO | FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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It’s a delicate balancing act as counties try to bridge the gap occasioned by the delay in the release of funds from the Treasury, three months into the 2018/19 financial year.

On Monday, it emerged that some counties are yet to receive a penny from the National Treasury. The situation has been worsened by budget shortfalls and a bloated workforce that consumes the largest chunk of the funds.

The Nation learnt that the latest disbursement was made on Monday, where 10 counties received Sh4,346,906,994. They are Bomet, Homa Bay, Kakamega, Kilifi, Kirinyaga, Kitui, Machakos, Marsabit, Meru and Nairobi.

And by August 31, only 15 counties had received partial allocations amounting to Sh4,031,939,826. These were Elgeyo-Marakwet, Embu, Isiolo, Kiambu, Laikipia, Lamu Migori, Mombasa, Murang’a Narok, Samburu, Taita-Taveta, Tharaka-Nithi, Trans Nzoia and West Pokot.


The rest of the devolved units were expected to get allocations.

Council of Governors chairman Josphat Nanok said the cash-strapped counties are struggling to stay afloat to ensure that critical services are not affected.

In Tana River, departmental heads have been forced to dig into their pockets to facilitate activities following a cash crisis that has hit the administration.

The Nation established that the administration was owing one fuel supplier more than Sh5 million, forcing the supplier to halt his services to the administration.

Mandera is yet to receive any cash disbursements, according to county secretary Okash Adan. Staff have also not been paid their August salaries.


A source in the county finance department told the Nation that local banks had declined to pay the county workers after a past agreement was not honoured by the Governor Ali Roba-led administration.

In Kilifi, finance chief officer Ben Kai said some projects had stalled due to the delay in disbursement of funds, saying they are having a hard time paying contractors, suppliers among others.

"The local revenue contributes only five percent of the county budget," he said.

In Nakuru, local revenue collections have saved the county from financial turmoil as it awaits its allocation from the National Treasury.

The county is using local revenue collections to pay for essential services like fuelling vehicles and other minor expenditures.


Kwale is yet to receive its share of development funds. Finance executive Bakari Sebe said the county has been relying on the little resources they carried forward from the previous financial year to fund operations.

In Isiolo, the administration resolved not to borrow funds for development or recurrent expenditure but would wait to receive its allocation from the Treasury.

“The Treasury didn’t disburse the funds for May and June and it was released in July. We are yet to receive the disbursement for July, August and September, which we are expecting to receive in two weeks,” he said.

Tharaka-Nithi Governor Muthomi Njuki said he is using five percent of last year’s funds, which were carried forward, and local revenue collection to pay for recurrent expenditure.

Reporting by Vivian Jebet, Manase Otsialo, Fadhili Fredrick, Francis Mureithi, Barnabas Bii, Charles Lwanga, Stephen Odour, Alex Njeru and Kennedy Kimanthi