As the Governors went through their annual ritual and the 6th Devolution Conference in Kirinyaga County, President Uhuru Kenyatta at the official opening of the Conference on 5th March 2019 hit the nail on the head when he lamented that the present state of affairs at both County government level and national government level where 50% of ordinary revenue to both levels of government goes to meet salaries of public servants, 30% to recurrent expenditure and only 20% to development is anachronistic and untenable, and the President rightly faulted the absurdity.
West Media has in several of its past editorials raised that same question of outrageous ratios of salaries and recurrent expenditure as compared to development expenditure. That salaries and recurrent expenditure all benefit less than 10% of the population of Kenya as the civil servants at both national government level and County level in Kenya are less than 10% the country’s population of about 43 million people. So how can we expect the transformation of the lives opportunities of 40 million people to be achieved on the 20% allocated to them as development funds? And mark you, it is the same public servants who are charged to implement the development agenda, the 20% and they invariably, like the Dams scandal and many others, insert corruption in the process so that at the end of the day maybe only less than 10% of the development budget benefit the ordinary citizen.
The announcement by the President that he will hold a summit soon to deliberate that obscene imbalance of national budgetary resources in favour of salaries and recurrent expenditure as compared to development expenditure is timely and may help Kenya re-organize its allocation of resources correctly. It’s the people who ought to receive at least 70% of the national budgetary resources to development and salaries and recurrent expenditure to take 30% or less if we have to be equitable and deliver the transformation needed for the majority of Kenyans.
The national budgetary resources of Kenya as things stand now is under capture by the elected leaders and public servants who gobble at least 70% of the same to salaries and recurrent expenditure and leave as an afterthought less than 30% to go to the wenyenchi. As Counties gloat, boast of devolution working, they conveniently fail to give any specifics, for example, for the last six years how much money was received by each County from the national budget and locally generated and out of that how much went to salaries and recurrent expenditure and how much to the development expenditure?
The parody of the devolution conference is that it doesn’t give any space for the Auditor General or the Director of Budget to give their reports on their performance or any independent auditor. Yet again the Counties do not tell the story in detail, of how poverty, disease, hunger have been conquered? How many people have been economically empowered so that they (those empowered) create jobs and reduce unemployment? Yes, devolution has made an impact but is that impact commensurate with the resources deployed to the Counties? Are we putting our benchmarks too low? Counties have simply targeted giving pain killers to poverty to ease the pain, and giving fish to the poor rather than teaching them how to fish.
Let the summit President Kenyatta has promised to hold be candid, and hopefully unmask the lie of development in Kenya when as a matter of fact the reality is that less than 10% of the population of the country are the ones plundering enjoying, swimming, eating and vomiting on their shoes using the national budgetary resources and 90% of the people consigned to receive little crumbs that remain of development expenditure after corruption has taken its share.