Pain in counties as Treasury yet to release Sh66b

Thursday, November 10th, 2022 08:40 | By
Council of Governors (COG) chairperson Anne Waiguru
Council of Governors (COG) chairperson Anne Waiguru. PHOTO/Courtesy.

Operations in a number of counties have been stifled following delays in disbursement of equitable share to County governments for the financial year 2022/23.

According to the Council of Governors (COG), the National Treasury has not disbursed a total of Sh66.33 billion to counties as per the approved disbursement schedule for the Financial Year 2022/23.

The outstanding amount includes Sh5.28 billion for August 2022 allocations owed to seven counties namely Baringo, Kilifi, Migori, Nakuru, Turkana, Uasin-Gishu and West Pokot.

Sh31.45 billion more are owed to 47 counties for the month of September and Sh29.6 billion owed to 47 counties for October.

CoG chair Anne Waiguru has already written to the National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Prof Njuguna Ndung’u requesting the office to “urgently expedite the disbursement.”

“Given the dire drought situation in the country, there is need for timely disbursement of funds to enable counties support the response mechanisms and put in place other interventions to mitigate the disaster…The purpose of this letter, therefore is to request your office to urgently expedite the disbursement as the continued delays jeopardize delivery of services and implementation of county budgets,” noted Waiguru.

In Mombasa, the situation has further been compounded by Kenya Revenue Authority’s move to freeze the  county’s accounts. Interviewed county staff in Mombasa confirmed that they have struggled without salaries for the last three months amidst growing uncertainty over the new regime.

“Things are thick my friend. Most of us are currently surviving on savings and things are worsening by the day. Besides, there is obvious tension considering that this is a new regime and you don’t know what is coming next… It is true that the accounts were frozen by KRA,” said a source at the County government.

As a result of the stand-off, various workers unions are now threatening to organize industrial action in Governor Abdulswamad Nassir’s fresh nightmare less than two months into his regime.

“Following our meeting with his Excellency the Governor on November 1, 2022, it was agreed that we give the County Government time to resolve the current financial crisis. However, your circular dated November 1, 2022, did not indicate a tentative date for salary payments. This was not well received by the healthcare workers of this county.

“This letter is to ask your office to pay the two salaries by Friday 11, 2022, failure to which the unions will seek an alternative redress without further reference to your office,” stated a letter jointly signed by Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union, Kenya Union of Nurses and Kenya Union of Clinical Officers.

Alternative redress

 Yesterday, Nassir confirmed that his administration inherited a debt laden county whose accounts were frozen.

However, the governor said his administration has already engaged the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) with the motive of offsetting remittances that were inherited from the previous regime.

 “We have started clearing the debts and already we have cleared half of the debt to KRA and we have also informed them of our plan to clear the remaining. We will do it slowly because Rome was not built in a day,” he said.

The governor said he expected workers to start receiving their pay starting today, Thursday. It remains unclear what exactly prompted KRA to close the accounts and action the authority intends to take against the Governor Hassan Joho’s regime whose culpability attracted the taxman’s attention.

Yesterday, the KRA communications department promised to respond to our queries within “seven working days.”

KMPDU Coast branch Chair Dr Ahmad Hassan Mkuche yesterday told People Daily that part of the alternative redress will include downing their tools to compel the new regime to pay all their salaries plus statutory deductions without fail.

“They have not remitted deductions such as NHIF, NSSF, PAYEE sacoo deductions and such things…if they don’t comply we will have to convene a general meeting with members to chat the way forward and one of them can be to go on strike,” Mkuche said in an interview.

Similarly, in Kisumu, health workers have petitioned the county government to address perennial delayed payment of salaries.

KMPDU Nyanza branch want governor Anyang Nyong’o’s administration to be proactive in paying their salaries promptly to cushion them from undue inconveniences. In the petition presented to the County Assembly yesterday, the unions decried frequent delays in payment of their salaries; a situation they argued has occasioned them a lot of emotional anguish and pecuniary embarrassment.

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