Tempers flare over Ksh100m livestock scheme

SHADOW BOXING: Statements from both the County Executive and County Assembly are anonymous

The drought situation has presented the first major opportunity for the County Executive and Assembly to flex muscles against each other

A war of words has broken out between Governor Joseph ole Lenku’s administration and the County Assembly over the former’s proposed allocation of Ksh100 million for a programme to purchase livestock from pastoralists.

An unsigned statement to newsrooms bearing the governor’s name tore into the County Assembly’s rejection of the proposed re-allocation of Ksh100 million for a livestock off-take programme. “My government, to say the least, is disappointed that our Assembly leadership and honourable members in the Budget Committee chaired by Kuya Nina failed to stand with our suffering livestock owners and fell for simplistic politics fuelled by external forces,” read the statement.

The funds, the statement said, would have been used to compensate farmers for at least 5,000 animals before they could die, thus enabling their owners to have money with which to restock when the drought situation improves. “It is therefore shocking that our County Assembly leadership and the Budget Committee did not see the value of helping us cushion our people from total losses of their livestock,” added the governor’s statement.

The re-allocation was presented in a Supplementary Budget to the County Assembly for approval but this was rejected, leading to the standoff.

But in a stinging rejoinder on its letterhead but equally unsigned, the County Assembly accused the County Executive of bad faith, saying the latter should “accept that the Assembly shall continue playing its oversight role.”

The drought situation has presented the first major opportunity for the County Executive and Assembly to flex muscles against each other after the governor failed to provide a complete list of his Cabinet nominees. This portends a frosty relationship between the two entities for the next five years, which will affect various development and emergency programmes.

The detailed but strongly-worded statement from the County Assembly said it could not allocate funds without a policy guideline as provided in the Public Finance Management Act, 2012. The proposal by the County Executive, it pointed out, lacked guidelines on the proposed fund’s utilization. “It is not possible to approve government funds that lack backing in law.”

The Committee on Budget and Appropriations, the statement from the Assembly further said, invited the County Executive Committee Members responsible for Finance and Agriculture to clarify on the criteria, timeliness and guidelines on the way the said Livestock Offtake Fund of Ksh100 million would be utilized, but the two did not convince the committee on the way the funds would be used without the guiding documents.

“The County Assembly will therefore stand firm on prudent spending and allocations as it carries out its oversight and budget approval mandate without fear,” said the statement.

Moreover, the County Assembly said it had already allocated Ksh310 million to mitigate the effects of the drought, including Ksh250 million for emergency to provide hay and food, Ksh40 million for livestock vaccination, and Ksh20 million for a milk coolant.

“The Committee also handed the water department Ksh166 million towards equipping water sources for availability of water for its population and livestock,” the statement went on. This is in addition to grants from the national government meant for climate change totalling Ksh342 million and which were also earmarked to address the drought and other emergencies.

Trashing Lenku’s accusations of political partisanship, the County Assembly said rejection of the Ksh100 million reallocation was unanimous from both the majority and minority members of the House.

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