Ward Development Funds (WDF) being created in counties are illegal after the Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo said their proposals are not within the confines of the law.
Ms Odhiambo has sent a circular to all County Executive Members for Finance and Clerks of the county assembles in all the 47 counties, detailing how the kitty should be established and what projects it should fund.
Some of the counties that have created a WDF or planning to create them are Nairobi, Embu, Nandi, Kisumu, Kakamega, Machakos, Murang’a, Meru, Laikipia, Nakuru, and Kiambu which is proposing an annual Sh1.8 billion kitty for its 60 wards.
But Ms Odhiambo, in her circular which she also copied to governors, said: “Having reviewed the draft legislations establishing the WDF, which were forwarded to our office by several counties, we have observed that a majority do not meet the conditions prescribed in Regulation 197. We have noted that most of the projects to be funded are similar to those that would ordinarily be delivered through the normal structure of the budget appropriations.”
Further, the draft legislations, she said, indicate that the kitties that are to be supervised by Ward Reps will be dependent on annual financing from the County Exchequer which is not envisaged in regulation 197 (1) (e).
Ms Odhiambo directed that projects established under the said kitty should be put under the development budgets and implemented by the respective departments.
Controller of Budget’s office mandate is to oversee implementation of budgets of the national and county governments.
In Ms Odhiambo’s circular, the kitty should be initiated through the County Executive Committee Member, under whose management it falls, and should provide clear justification as to why the fund in necessary.
County Executive Member in charge of the kitty should demonstrate how it will fit in the overall medium term plan and county fiscal strategic paper.
Muran’ga Senator Irungu Kang’ata has also proposed such a kitty through the County Wards Development Equalisation Bill, 2018, which has already received a nod from the Senate legal department.
The Senate Majority Deputy Whip, who said his proposal has considered all the required regulations, said the Bill seeks to promote equitable development across the country, through a uniform development kitty for each ward to run specific projects.
According to the Bill, the kitty should consist of at least eight per cent of the share of the annual revenue allocated to the respective county.
It also provides a mechanism for identification of priority projects in each ward through public participation with respect to the application resources and the identification and implementation of projects.