The controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo’s confirmation that county Governments have cumulative debts of ksh 37.46 billion is cause for the greatest concern for residents whose Counties are engaging in fiscal indiscipline so that they are living beyond their means and putting unnecessary financial burdens on their Counties.
The County of Bungoma is stated to have the highest indebtedness of all the 47 Counties with debts of Shs 2.54 billion, Kakamega has 859.6 million, TransNzoia with Shs 589.3 million and Vihiga as admitted by the Governor shs 897 million. It is only the County of Busia that has not declared being indebted to any of its suppliers for goods services and works.
Each County each financial year prepares a budget that stipulates its income from the National Budget and its own internally generated resources and pegs it’s expenditure on those resources it expects to receive and collect. How then do the debts arise? Is it that counties are living beyond their means or are the budgeted resources being misallocated to unbudgeted expenditures, so as to create the deficit? Who is cheating who in the story of County debts?
Members of County Assemblies of the Counties of the former western province and TransNzoia County as the watchdogs of the people of those Counties must not become accomplices of County government’s fiscal mismanagement and fraud that will sink them into bottomless pits of debts.
And as the elections approach how can the people of the Counties rule out schemes being hatched and executed to even incur more debt by the Counties to hoodwink the electorate about this or that development project?
The Auditor-General must be prodded by the Members of the National Assembly to unearth the realities of County debts and for governors who govern their counties on debt to be identified and prosecuted for economics crimes and for the electorate to prepare to vote them out of office come 2017 for mismanagement of County resources.
The Public Finance Management Act has clear boundaries and does not permit incurring expenditure not budgeted for and beyond the financial abilities of each County. Where then are the debts being generated?