Can’t, won’t take: Governors reject Sh390b allocation

Wednesday, February 21st, 2024 06:50 | By
Governors during the second National Executive Retreat in Naivasha, Nakuru, yesterday. PHOTO/PCS

Governors have rejected an offer of Sh390 billion from the National Treasury in a meeting chaired by President William Ruto.

County bosses yesterday told the Head of State that they would only accept Sh450 billion as equitable share to counties.

“The impasse went on for a while. Governors now want the Senate to stand with them when the matter is presented for consideration,” said a source who was at the meeting in Naivasha.

Treasury, however, maintained that it has no money and will not commit itself to the amount demanded by the governors.

In response, President Ruto told the governors that the government is committed to strengthening devolution to enhance service delivery to the people.

“You should understand that the granary is not limitless,” Ruto told the tensed governors.

He asked the county heads to understand the situation the government was in and accept what was on offer.

“It is important when there is a give and take among all parties,” Ruto told the governors, a position Chief Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi has also backed.

President made the remarks during the Second National Executive Retreat attended by leadership of the Council of Governors, led by chairperson Ann Waiguru in Naivasha. Governors on the other hand maintained that the Commission of Revenue Allocation (CRA)  recommendations are obligatory as they are highly technical in nature and that any deviations, therefore must be rationalised on the basis of the objective criteria set out in article 203(1) of the Constitution.

Ruto said the Kenya Kwanza administration is working with all governors, irrespective of their political affiliation, to spur inclusive growth and development.

“Let me repeat for the umpteenth time that at a personal level and this administration, we support devolution 100 percent,” he said.

“You should never have any doubt as to our support for devolution. You know there is pull and push, which politics is all about but my support for devolution remains intact,” Ruto added.

The Head of State acknowledged devolved units as invaluable assets in implementation of the Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda.

He cited the affordable housing programme as one of the programmes that the two levels of government are working together to deliver.

“We view county governments as assets and partners in the delivery of the plan and transformation of our country,” he said.

Ruto added that he had invited the leadership of CoG to the National Executive Retreat to strengthen the partnership between the two levels of government.

Significant impact

“We must converge our thoughts and plans so that together we can change our country,” he added even as he commended governors for working as a team.

Waiguru said the partnership between the National and county governments has had a significant impact on the delivery of services to the people.

“Look at the things we have achieved in health when we worked collaboratively and met half away. If we do the same with the other devolved functions, we will achieve much more,” she added.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Prof Njuguna Ndung’u exuded confidence that the country’s economy was on the right track and only needed more measurers to sustain the trajectory. “Recovery is starting at 4.5 per cent. That recovery is premised on policies the government has taken. That recovery rate will create a strong momentum,” said Prof Ndung’u.

The CS further said there had been many doubts on how the government would undertake the Eurobond repayments due to the shortage of dollars in the local economy.

 “Many believed we would go to the market to buy dollars for the repayments. That is why the market speculated on the dollar. They bought the dollars hoping to benefit the government would later buy from them,” Ndung’u explained.

 The government, however, rescheduled the repayment plan for the Eurobond, which the CS said reduced the demand for the dollars stabilising the value of the Kenyan shilling.

“Some investors were shy from investing in Kenya because they wanted us to resolve the Eurobond first. The market has responded well. Now we can get refinancing which we supplement with our measures,” said Ndung’u.

The CS said restructuring of the Eurobond has eased pressure on the Kenyan shilling with the country evading the risk of being unable to pay its debt when due. “Now we shall not have the risk of ever having a bullet payment of Sh2 billion at a go. Many expected us to default like other countries,” he said.

The President said he called for the joint meeting to create a cordial working relationship between Cabinet Secretaries and county governments.

“County governments are another level of government that we must work with because the Constitution contemplates us working together,” said Ruto.

Not our invention

 The President noted that the government had not achieved as much as it had desired due to the discord between the two levels of government.

 “Devolution is not our invention. The people of Kenya decided that they wanted a government that was close to them. You should never have any doubt as to our support for devolution,” said Ruto.

 Ruto revealed that there had been discontent between the National and county governments as well as among some of the ministries in his administration.

 “We have had instances of one ministry doing what is supposed to be done by the other. These little wars are natural in politics. We must never mistake these wars as any part of the government trying to claw back against the other,” he said.

 He underscored the need for dialogue among leaders noting that communication between his office and that of the CoG chairperson had resolved most misunderstandings among them.

Ruto’s sentiments were echoed by Mudavadi, who revealed that they also evaluated successes of various plans drafted last year in Nanyuki.

 “We have looked at where we are in terms of progress on these clusters and it is encouraging. That our economy is recovering shows that our strategies are working,” Mudavadi noted.

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