Brief Budget Analysis: Isiolo County
By Ali Edin,
The 2010 Constitutional dispensation brought forth devolution creating the County Governments as a way of decentralizing services and resources to improve the lives of the common man. Devolution has been cited as a system that will ensure regions that have for a long period been marginalized get a chance to catch up with the other parts of the Country. The critics of devolution have cited misuse of funds as the major reason for the dismal performance of a number of Counties. The statistics given by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission have proved that we have quite a long way to go for a number of Counties. In the advent of devolution, Counties in the NFD had a golden chance to redeem themselves from the shackles of marginalization and pick up to catch up with other regions. There was hope amongst the people as money started trickling down to the grassroots and there were signs that the taps of development will at last drop some water. Hopes were soon dashed as most of the funds went into the pockets of a few. The anticipated development for the many not the few fizzled away.
We would like to study the budgetary allocation of NFD counties and how they have been spent by those mandated to plan for their expenditure.
The latest report from the Auditor General for Isiolo County brought to light a lot of anomalies when it comes to the County Government’s spending which is a clear reflection of mismanagement that has denied delivery of services to the common Mwananchi. The report which was recently made public raises red flags that demands prompt and immediate answers as to how exactly the County spends the money received from the National Government.
The Approved Supplementary Budget for Isiolo County for the FY 2017/2018 was Ksh. 4.37 billion and of that Ksh. 2.77 billion was marked for recurrent expenditure and Ksh. 1.57 billion was meant for development. From the total budget the County was expected to receive Ksh. 3.78 billion as its constitutional equitable share of national revenue and another Ksh. 382.42 million in conditional grants. In the first half of the FY 2017/2018 the County received Ksh. 1.02 billion and out of this the County spent 95.2% which is equivalent to Ksh. 943.64 million for recurrent expenditure and only 4.8% was spent for development.
Out of the Ksh. 943.2 million that was spent on recurrent expenditure a staggering Ksh. 768.2 million (81.4%) was spent on personnel emoluments and Ksh. 175.44 (18.5%) on operational maintenance. Only 76.77 million(8.05%) was spent on development projects. It is not clear which development programs this was used for as the county administration has not made clear. Specific projects that the 77 million shillings was used for is not mentioned anywhere by the administration. One year in office, Isiolo County Government does not have an Internal Audit Committee and did not constitute the County Budget and Economic Forum.
In a nutshell
Isiolo County Government is showing little effort in spearheading development in the region going by the negligible budgetary allocation for development programs. To spend a paltry 8% of budgetary allocations on development programs is not only unconstitutional but an open disregard of the importance of prioritizing broader development delivered to the grassroots. The County Government needs to cut down on the recurrent expenditure if it is to deliver on the promises it made to the people of Isiolo County.
The County is also doing poorly when it comes to revenue collection which has potential of raising a considerable amount of money that can do a lot to supplement the budget. In the last financial year the County Government raised only Ksh. 53.73 million in revenue which was way short of its target of Ksh. 182.86 million. The County needs to invest more in ways of increasing revenue collection which is completely untapped. It seems like there exists incapacity in the County administration to streamline revenue collections and explore new strategies to improve on collection to spur economic activity.
A huge percentage of the County fund is spent on salaries and allowances for County staff. The County needs to relook its strategy and spending if Isiolo is to benefit from the second phase of devolution. There is no tangible development to show for this first year of the second phase and the people of Isiolo are worse. The main reason why County Governments exist is to prioritize on development and focus solely on efforts that will improve people’s lives.
The people of Isiolo must stand up and speak against wanton waste of public resources and assist the government of the day to suitably strategise and efficiently prioritize so that the county can benefit from the devolved system.