The vulnerability of counties is playing out once again in a crisis that threatens to ground their operations.
As it has happened several times in the past, this has been sparked by the delayed disbursement of funds from the National Treasury, as a result of which hundreds of thousands of county employees are yet to receive their November salaries.
These are the very people expected to run county operations.
This time around, the problem has arisen because of a hitch that should have been foreseen and contingency plans put in place.
It is unforgivable that counties have run dry after the tenure of the acting Controller of Budget ended before she could release funds to them.
It is unacceptable, as this is a key office whose main task is to approve the release of funds from the government’s Consolidated Fund Services to the ministries, counties and State agencies.
A substantive Controller of Budget should have been appointed before the 90-day period lapsed on November 25, leaving counties so badly exposed financially.
There are, of course, other challenges that we have highlighted before.
The most glaring is the inability of the 47 counties to generate their own revenue, which leaves them relying solely on the National Treasury for their very survival.
The second is the corruption that has taken root, with cartels colluding with county operatives to loot public coffers.
We cannot forever keep on talking about teething problems. Counties have been around for quite a while — seven years — and should, by now, be fairly well-entrenched to justify their existence.
However, from a purely logistical concern, there is a critical need to establish a foolproof system that enables a seamless disbursement of funds to the counties.