It has been six years since Kenya adopted devolution. This brought into being 47 counties each in charge of a county governor. Each county has its own County Assembly with each ward represented by a Member of the County Assembly (MCA).
Devolution was meant to “take services” closer to the people. It was aimed at empowering people at the grassroots level to utilize their own resources within their own counties. Services were to be moved from the “traditional Nairobi” to “mashinani.”
6 years on Kenyans are yet to see the benefits of devolution. Instead of empowering people in the counties, devolution seems to have created a few overnight billionaires who have been busy looting with impunity public funds meant for the mwananchi.
6 years on and the unemployment rate in the country is now at 43.5 percent. People in the counties have not tested the fruits of devolution through employment opportunities. Those being employed are those who have close ties with county bosses.
6 years on and people in Turkana, Baringo, and more than 1o other counties are still starving to death and going without water as the few in power continue to enrich themselves at the expense of the ravaged electorate.
Since devolution, counties have received 2 trillion shillings from the National Government to help the running of counties, but above all, help in bringing developments in the counties. Very few counties have something to show for the funds they have been receiving.
For the 2019/2020, the National Government has allocated 371 billion shillings for the counties. County bosses say the money is not enough and want more. But, what difference will it make if they have nothing to show for the 2 trillion they have received in 6 years?
Counties development expenditure uptake as a proportion of the total expenditure remains below the expected level of 30 percent as per the PFM Act indicating that the budget is largely absorbed by recurrent expenditure.
In other words, more than 70 percent of budgets to counties are used to sponsor the lifestyles of people and less than 30 percent for developments.
Many counties have several pending bills which has negatively impacted on the economic spending activities and thus, the economic growth. The government has directed that suppliers be paid within a maximum of 60 days, with the hope that counties will adhere to this directive.
All counties heavily rely on the National Government for the running of their day to day activities in terms of funding. There is a need for the roles to be reversed.
Counties are to work towards financial independence by raising their own resources and revenue so that devolution can be strengthened. What will happen if the National Government stopped giving the funds? Devolution will die, no doubt.