By Mwenda Thiribi
The matter of financing devolution is becoming a contentious issue day by day. Now the Council of Governors, the Senate and the National Assembly are disagreeing sometimes on flimsy grounds.
After looking at this matter from within and from outside I think I have the capacity to offer professional advice. To start with let us remember that the former defunct county councils were financing all their activities from internally generated revenues. They were relying on very little from central government for finance.
The purpose of devolution is to bring development and service delivery to the grassroots. Not to devolve recurrent expenditure as it now appears.
When the counties get too much money from outside sources there is temptation to focus on spending that money on individual benefits away from development. This in my view is the reason for the ballooning wage bill including unnecessary travel allowances.
When the government sets up a requirement that at least 30% should go to development expenditure all the 47 counties focus on achieving just that – 30% very few reach 35%.
I am aware that very few counties achieve their local revenue collection budgets, mainly because of corruption by revenue clerks who take home more than 200% of what they deliver to the employers. They can get away with it because they share with their supervisors.
In addition, the counties and the executive do not concentrate alot on strategies to improve local revenue collection because they can easily survive on National Treasury allocation
In my view if the county governments strictly implement the Performance Contracting Evaluation criteria they can cut the labour force by more than 50%. The money saved can go to development.
I would like to encourage the more progressive Members of Parliament to enact a new law that states that the salary and allowance of all the county staff except those of medical staff be funded from local revenue. This would leave all the allocation from central government to finance development and health services.
If this happens, the counties will go our of their way to manage wastage and greed in recurrent expenditure, cut the ballooning unproductive workforce and develop measures to reduce corruption in local revenue collection and develop new strategies to generate more local revenue to survive.
Mr. Mwenda Thiribi is former Isiolo County Executive Committee Member for Finance and Economic Planning
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