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Delay in release of funds hurting counties, says Wangamati

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Bungoma Governor Wycliffe Wangamati has decried the delay in disbursement of funds saying the intermittent exchequer releases have made it almost impossible for Counties to run development projects. “Up to date, we are yet to receive our allocations of April, March and February,” Wangamati said.

Speaking to the Senate Committee on Devolution and Intergovernmental Relations who were on a fact-finding mission in the county on the success and shortcomings of devolution on Friday, Wangamati made a raft of suggestions including the need to change the tenure of Public Service Board members from six years to five years so as to make the board to be in sync with elective offices.

He also brought out the issue of differentiating between the Public Service Board and Human Resource in order to allow the Human Resource department to hire low cadre staff and the board to handle higher positions. He added that the board handling all hiring including casuals renders the human resource department redundant.

Responding to queries from the Senate Committee, Governor Wangamati highlighted the successes of devolution including helping create new economic hubs away from the political and administrative capital as was the case since independence up to 2013.

“Devolution has led to the creation of economic centres across the county. Through devolution, we are getting more funding in health, agriculture, food security and infrastructure,” he said, adding that there is, however, need for Counties to manage their recurrent expenditure.

Echoing the observations of the senators, Wangamati stated that some of the major challenges facing the county include a bloated workforce. “As presently constituted, the recurrent expenditure gobbles up more than 70% of the allocation with only 30% left to development,” he said.

He also cited the never-ending conflicts between MCAs and the executive as unhelpful to any County’s development agenda.

“There is yet another challenge of our people failing to differentiate between National and County Government functions,” he said, adding that most of the electorate had forgotten that there are some functions that are not devolved thereby burdening the county government with need for help in these areas.

Echoing the Governor’s issue on delay of disbursements, the Senators said it was important to revisit how money was being disbursed adding that they will propose a Bill to penalise Treasury when timelines are not met.

They also highlighted the need for more training of MCAs and County officials to enable cooperation and accountability.

The Senators also committed to support the idea of shortening the term of the Public Service Board and work towards development of a County Pension Scheme.

The Devolution Committee members present were Kabaka Mutinda (Machakos), Nderitu Kinyua (Laikipia), Wario Golich Juma (Tana River) and Members of the Secretariat.

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