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Citizen Weekly

Monday, 9 February 2015

Nakuru budget splits county management down the middle

Budgetary ceiling by the Commission for Revenue Allocation has caused ripples and divisions within the Nakuru county government.
The split in differing views at the county has even trickled down to the assembly where MCAs are now not reading from the same script as it relates to the proposed Nakuru county supplementary budget projections.
A number out of the 74 MCAs in the assembly are opposed to the stance taken by their majority leader who had recently accused county’s finance minister Francis Mathea of meddling in the ongoing preparation of the county’s supplementary budget.
The MCAs led by Edward Gitau of Visoi ward in Rongai claim their majority leader at the assembly Samuel Njane has allegedly failed in his duties.
They distanced themselves from Njane’s lampooning of the county’s finance minister saying Waithuki enjoys support of only a few MCAs who are mainly among the old guards in an apparent reference to former councillors.
Waithuki in a recent interview with the press had accused Mathea of underperformance saying present revenue collections are a pale shadow of the collections made during the defunct civic authority system of municipalities and county councils within Nakuru county.
“The county finance minister is behaving as if he is the boss but he should know and be told that MCAs are like the directors of the county government and therefore his bosses,” stated the majority head in an interview with Weekly Citizen.
He had agued that the meeting Mathea called at Top Cliff Hotel to discuss the county’s supplementary allocations and attended by assembly committees chairpersons was merely consultative and wondered why Mathea was trying to hush up the process.
The accusations and counteraccusations come out at a time when for unknown reasons,  the Nakuru county assembly failed to table its proposed budget for 2015-2018 Fiscal Strategic Plan at the county’s recently held public participation forum. Local political pundits attributed this to the impasse that has gripped the MCAs and the county minister for finance.
The development, according to analysts, has threatened the county’s smooth running and could be a powderkeg that could grow into a crisis that may eventually paralyse service delivery to residents of the county.
The assembly failed to send any of its officers to a county budget public participation forum that climaxed with a four-day session of collection of views from residents, a development which may necessitate delay in the implementation of the budget.
The county executive via its finance ministry office has been trying to persuade the partly rebellious Nakuru county assembly members to adjust by down-scaling its supplementary budget in order to qualify for earliest release of the much needed funds in compliance with the ceilings set out by CRA.
However, no officer from the assembly or MCA turned up for the forum, held at the Nakuru County Agricultural Training Institute in Soilo. The resolutions of the public are expected to be taken to the assembly house for debate and implementation. The delay in passing the supplementary budget has tied the executive, leaving its hands tied up as it can not run projects and probably not pay salaries as a result.
The meetings were said to have been funded and staffed by the Nakuru county treasury.
It is unknown for how long the cold war between the assembly and the executive of the Nakuru county will hold out, particularly on the supplementary budget issues. However, locals accustomed to the county political scenarios say the earlier the matter is sorted out, the better for the county residents who need services and general development.