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Counties likely to grind to a halt, say governors

Wednesday April 12 2017

Council of Governors chairman Peter Munya addressing journalists on the sidelines of the 4th Devolution Conference in Naivasha on March 09, 2017. PHOTO | SULEIMAN MBATIAH | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Council of Governors chairman Peter Munya addressing journalists on the sidelines of the 4th Devolution Conference in Naivasha on March 09, 2017. PHOTO | SULEIMAN MBATIAH | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

DENNIS ODUNGA
By DENNIS ODUNGA
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There is a deliberate attempt by the national government to paralyse operations in counties ahead of the August General Election, governors claimed on Wednesday.

The county bosses questioned why the Integrated Financial Management Information Systems (Ifmis) was mainly not working at the 47 county governments.

“We are suspicious that failure of the system is an attempt to slow down county government operations especially as the General Election draws near,” the Council of Governors chairman Peter Munya said, in Nairobi.

Mr Munya who was accompanied by Makueni governor Kivutha Kibwana warned that it could be suicidal to peg delivery of functions on the August polls, yet majority of Kenyans require services.

They said the national government must provide an enabling environment for counties to discharge quality and timely services.

UNLOCK IMPASSE

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They want National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich to take responsibility and advise county governments on how they can meet their financial obligations.

“Ifmis is no longer tenable. We have spoken about its failures for long. We need to get advice on what counties can do to unlock the impasse,” Mr Munya said when he addressed the media in Nairobi.

He said development projects in the devolved units have stagnated and governors cannot spend money because of frequent failures of the system that he said has not been working since April 3.

“Operations in the 47 counties have been disrupted. Counties are unable to pay pending bills to contractors and suppliers causing unnecessary anxiety,” Mr Munya, who is also the Meru governor said.

He said the national government has been unfairly accusing county governments of demanding additional funds when they have failed to utilise the funds allocated to them.

MANUAL SYSTEM

“At the end of the Financial Year, we will be accused of not absorbing development budget yet it is failure occasioned by a very poor technology,” Mr Munya said.

National Treasury, said the governors, should consider reverting to the manual system of approving financial transactions, if the Ifmis system cannot meet the set standards.

Prof Kibwana said most counties had awarded contracts to finalise development projects for this Financial Year and they are now unable to pay the service providers as agreed.

“Treasury is exposing us to dangerous situations. Counties are likely to grind to a halt,” Prof Kibwana said.

NOT SUCCESSFUL

Ifmis though popularised as a government financial system used to improve the country’s financial management, it has been at the centre of corruption claims with millions of public funds being looted, despite the system being in place.

The effectiveness of the system, whose development of Ifmis was overseen by Anne Waiguru before her appointment as Devolution Cabinet Secretary in 2013, has been cast to doubt.

Previously, the National Treasury Cabinet Secretary said the system despite failures that he said could be fixed through routine checks, has not been successful in preventing and exposing corruption cases.