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Women, youth, big winners in sh11 billion county budget

“Effective and efficient use of taxpayers’ money requires sound financial management and full transparency” says Henry Kimiti, chairman of the County Assembly Committee on Budget

By Jonathan Teikan

The sh11 billion budget that was recently approved by the Kajiado County Assembly, contains a number of austerity measures aimed at recovering from the economic fallout brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Henry Kimiti, the Budget Estimates were prepared at a time the county was striving for economic recovery. “The negative effects of the pandemic were felt in key areas of the economy, which need reviving; hence, the theme ‘Economic recovery for improved quality of life’,” said Kimiti, who is the chairman of the Budget Committee.

“Thus, effective and efficient use of taxpayers’ money requires sound financial management and full transparency,” added Kimiti. “Therefore, public money should be allocated on the basis of evidence of program effectiveness and in furtherance of the priorities of government.”

In a bid to kick-start the economy as a result of the battering occasioned by Covid-19 the budget allocated an economic stimulus package. “Though quite small and relative to required economic stimulus, the proposed stimulus program is a good start. It includes; women empowerment (sh50 million), PWDs fund (sh10 million), Emergency fund (sh150 million”, bursary and scholarship fund (sh150 million), vijana tujiajiri project (sh30 million) and support to school through provision of fortified porridge (shs25 million).

Out of the sh11.2 billion budget, 75 per cent comes from the equitable share from the National Government, while 15 per cent of that amount comes from monies collected by the Kajiado County Government. The remaining 15 per cent will be funded through conditional grants received by the county.

The Covid-19 pandemic had an overall negative effect in revenue collection. “An analysis of revenue performance from July to May in the 2020/21 Financial Year was 45 percent,” says the Budget report. “The amount collected was sh766.7 million against a target of sh1.68 Billion.”

“The underperformance in Own Source Revenue collection of 50 per cent is associated with the intervention measures (removal of market/barter fees, slaughter fee and bus park fees) implemented by the county government to cushion businesses from the negative impacts of Covid-19 pandemic.”

Among the austerity measures proposed in the Budget includes deducting sh144 million from various departments, funds that would have gone towards ‘unnecessary’ expenditure.

Among the reductions in recurrent expenditure includes sh40.6 million docked from the Heath Department and Sh39 million from the Finance Department. The Office of the Governor and his Deputy also had their budget slashed by sh4 million.

However, despite the reductions, the Department of Health still has the largest allocation in the 2021/2022 Budget, at around sh2.6 billion, followed by the Finance Department with around sh1.9 billion. The Office of the Governor and his deputy got sh239 million.

The Kajiado and Ngong municipalities got sh109 million and sh304 million respectively.

For the first time, the office of the County Attorney has been allocated a budget of its own, of sh178 million.

“The Office of the County Attorney and County Solicitor was recently established as a standalone department through the enactment of the Office of the County Attorney Act, 2020. This was the first time the department was being factored in the County Budget,” said Kimiti.

Under the new arrangement, it has been resolved that legal fees from all departments, in the county, be channelled to the Office of the County Attorney, which is supposed to handle all legal issues in the county.

However, while all the other departments had their budgets slashed, the County Assembly benefited from an injection of an additional sh99 million. The increase was attributed to the fact that The County Allocation of Revenue Act, 2021, gave Kajiado County an additional sh1.5 billion.

“Further aware that an increase of County resources consequently increases the responsibility of the County Assembly on oversight,” said the Budget Committee chairman.

“In view of the above the County Assembly ceiling has been raised by shs 99,257,001 to facilitate effective and efficient oversight, enhance public participation and enactment of legislation that addresses the needs of the people.”

The additional sh1.5 billion means that this year’s budget increases by 12.2 per cent compared to last year’s budget.

The issue of Pending Bills came up in the reading of this year’s Budget, with the Committee allocating sh1 billion to help solve the matter. The Department of Health has the highest pending bills, at Sh150 million, followed by Roads and Public Works at sh48 million.

Other departments include the Office of the Governor and his deputy with sh29 million and Agriculture with sh43 million. Department of Education is owed sh6.7 million.

The other issue that came out in the Budget was that of emoluments (which includes salaries), which has exceeded the required 35 per cent threshold.  “The Committee observes that personnel emoluments have been allocated sh3,910,595,788, translate to 37 per cent, which is higher than the recommended 35 per cent.”

There has been a steady rise in the personal emoluments budget right from the in the 2017/2018 Financial Year. That year, the budget was sh2,626,416,858, representing 32 per cent of the total budget for that year. This indicates a 62 per cent growth in personal emoluments since the FY 2017/2018 budget.

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