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Make all counties viable

Friday September 13 2019

EDITORIAL
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One area where the 47 counties have shown unimaginable vulnerability is inability to generate their own revenue.

In fact, these devolved units are so dependent on the annual financial allocations from the National Treasury that any delay in disbursing the funds threatens to ground their operations.

That has been the case until just over a week ago, when a row on revenue sharing ended, with the Senate giving up its pitch for an increase in allocation to the counties.

Nearly all the counties had not paid salaries and their operations were about to grind to a halt. This is a stark manifestation of their near-criminal dependence on the National Treasury, a mockery of their existence.

The question that has often been asked is if any of these entities is viable, with a suggestion, albeit unpopular on the ground, that it would make a lot more sense to merge some of them.

STOP LOOTING

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The Auditor-General has criticised the counties for failure to meet their revenue targets — as much as Sh7 billion.

Of even more concern is the revelation that, in the past four years, all the counties registered shortfalls in own revenue generation.

They had targeted a total of Sh49 billion in revenue but managed only Sh32 billion. The continued decline, as confirmed in the 2017-2018 financial report, is bound to undermine their service delivery.

Counties must develop the capacity to fully exploit the local natural resources and create an enabling environment for wealth creation.

They must also plug the haemorrhage of public funds through blatant wastefulness and looting.

Forging economic blocs, which is taking shape in some regions, will enable joint exploration of resources and potential for mutual benefit.

It will take hard work to make the counties economically self-reliant as was envisaged in their establishment but it is possible.

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