There is fears that Devolution in Kenya is teetering on the brink of collapse following a cash crisis caused by delayed disbursement of revenue by the National Treasury.
Most Governors have warned the system of governance may not survive the turbulence of the cash crisis if nothing is done to salvage the situation.
The National Treasury is yet to disburse Sh32 billion allocated to counties in the financial year 2019-20.
Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani has not given the timelines when the money will be released. Devolution in Kenya
Worse still, there are fears the impasse at the Senate over the proposed third basis of revenue sharing risks escalating the cash crisis.
Counties are broke, a situation governors say puts the devolved units at a precarious position with the dependence on them to tackle Covid-19 emergencies.
A number of them have been depending on the Sh5 billion disbursed for Covid-19 response.
Counties can’t share out the Sh316.5 billion allocated in the financial year 2020-21 without the formula. The delays portend more trouble for governors.
Senators are holding a sitting on Tuesday to debate the divisive proposal which must be approved before the County Allocation of Revenue Bill 2020 is dealt with.
Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Opranya said they project that by end of this month there will be no money left for county operations.
Governors are faced with pending bills, salary delays and insufficient supplies with the competing emergencies affecting development.
The county bosses are on spot over lack of preparedness to handle mass Covid-19 infections in the wake of increased community transmissions.
Some 21 counties are yet to meet the 300 isolation bed capacity set by the national emergency response committee chaired by Health CS Mutahi Kagwe.
Oparanya said their only hope of unlocking cash for counties and functions rested with the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
“Devolution is collapsing. The only thing that we hope will help us is the BBI as it is promising more resources to counties,” Oparanya said.
He said with the delays in passing the revenue formula, “counties will be completely paralysed without any resources to provide any service.
“This will be not just to handle the pandemic but to deal with any service for that matter. We appeal to the Senate to hasten the process.”
Governors want the Senate to cushion county governments that will be affected by the delays by utilising the Equalisation Fund through a supplementary budget.
The county bosses feel that the devolved units are still under the chokehold of the national government, with a number of functions yet to be transferred.- Devolution in Kenya
BBI is expected to yield more share of revenue at 35 per cent and final transfer of county functions with the aligned resources.
The BBI process is equally in abeyance with little activity to show for it since the task force’s term ended on June 30.
Oparanya said they are facing difficulties in attempts to respond to Covid-19 emergencies.
He told the Star a number of counties will not replenish their stocks of personal protective equipment for health workers by end of this month.
The Kakamega county boss said buying the disposable PPEs is an expensive affair as they pay about Sh12,000 apiece.
“It is a huge budget. There will be a time we will not be able to buy. The national government tells us we will be sent some but nothing is coming,” Oparanya said.
The county chiefs’ further concern is the mode of procurement where the PPEs are sourced by the Ministry of Health.
Governors have cried foul that procurement of PPEs remains a controlled process, considering they are not easy to come by in the local market.
These are among the issues that featured in their meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta to review the impact of the eased movement restrictions.
The county bosses say that timely release of funds would save the government additional expenses in variations affecting contracts.
Treasury data shows that counties had as at June 30 received Sh315.97 billion of the allocated Sh347.88 billion.
The Exchequer retained Sh6.2 billion for the leased medical equipment scheme; Sh485 million for construction of county headquarters and Sh8.98 billion road maintenance fuel levy.
In the State of Devolution address, governors also cited laws and bills they say claw back on the functions of county governments.
They cited the recent amendments to the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency Act which centralised the procurement of drugs at the agency.
“This has been detrimental to counties as they are unable to purchase drugs quickly,” the council concluded.
Also of concern is the County Government Retirement Scheme Act which returns the management of county pension back to the national government.
Governors further complained that the council was yet to be anchored in law following delays in the amending the Intergovernmental Relations Act.
The Covid-19 crisis has shown that lack of adequate investment in resilient health systems can expose the entire spectrum of society to risks of collapse. Similarly, ignoring investments in sustainable utilisation of natural resources has the potential to degrade further already fragile biological ecosystems on which a lot of our existence depends today and will do so in the future. Devolution in Kenya
Source The Star Kenya