Interrogation of the first Kakamega County Supplementary Budget for the 2022/2023 Financial Year (FY) has kicked off with most departments revising their initial budgets to offset pending bills.
Though defended to be within the main Budget ceilings, Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) drawn from various sectoral committees raised a concern why revisions were mainly geared towards pending bills.
On Monday, South Butsotso Ward legislator who also chairs the Budget and Appropriations committee, Hon. Gildon Shioso questioned the huge amounts meant for paying pending bills.
“Honorable members, as committee on Budget we have observed that 70% of the supplementary budget is about pending bills and we are wondering why?,” he questioned.
The Ministry of Roads, Public Works and Energy had pending bills totaling to Ksh. 472 million under development budget, an amount that had to be settled before the department embarks on other works as highlighted by the department’s chief officer in charge of roads and energy, Eng. Joseph Sweta while addressing the committee on Roads, Public Works and Energy.
He told the committee that pending bills is the first charge for any approval to be done by the Controller of Budget.
"I therefore request this committee to look at our requests and adopt them without alteration, since we have reorganized our supplementary budget within the initial ceilings,” he explained.
Mr. Eng. Sweta told the committee that the construction of the County Assembly Chambers had failed to commence due to logistical problems revolving around unestablished land ownership and that the Ksh. 10 million had been reduced from the initial allocation of Ksh. 60 million to cater for pending bills.
He further advised that out of the remaining Ksh. 50 million, Ksh. 15 million and Ksh. 35 million be moved to the Manda bridge that was in dire need for construction and the ward-based 10 km road project.
Officials from the department of Health services were put to task to explain why Ksh. 199.13 million had been paid for the construction of Shamakhubu Hospital yet the project had stalled despite recurring budgetary allocations to the same project in preceding financial years.
In response, the ministry’s Chief Officer, Dr. Moraa Mose told the committee that the contractor had to be suspended and that the project was to be re-advertised by end of December 2021 for completion.
‘’We have had a challenge with the previous contractor who had not been on site since August 2020 even after being paid Ksh. 4 million. We are therefore re –advertising the project after following the due process,” added Dr. Mose.
The committee also observed with concern that medical drugs at the Kakamega County General Hospital had an increased allocation of Ksh.10 million from Ksh. 7.6 million, an observation Dr. Mose attributed for the need to have smooth operations of the facility for the entire financial year.
The Chairperson of the Health Committee, Hon.Benard Omboko reminded the officers on the need to have all county stalled projects completed through the supplementary budget.
‘’Let us be objective and ensure that moving forward all projects that were initiated be completed to enable wananchi have the value of their money,’’ Hon. Omboko said .
The committee on Early Childhood Education and Vocational Training observed that under the ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Ksh. 500,000 had been allocated on the new item ‘purchase of software,’ a move the ministry’s Chief Officer, Ms. Doreen Amwoga explained that the funds were for maintenance and hosting of the application for efficient service delivery.
In the department of Agriculture, Ksh. 70.2 million had been allocated on farm inputs which comprised of procurement of seeds and fertilizer.
It was further clarified that following the delay in disbursement for the month of May, there was an expenditure to clear the pending bill before any proceedings.
The committee in charge of Social Services, Sports, Youth, Women Empowerment and Culture noted that the department had transferred Ksh. 4 million from shelter improvement programme under the development budget to current, a move executive officers attributed to the directive by the Controller of Budget that the tasks were totally under administrative costs and not development as earlier indicated.
On the shelter improvement programme under development, there was a concern on reduction of Ksh. 69 million from Ksh. 81 million which was estimated to put up a total of 360 units at a cost of Ksh. 166,972 each.
Gender-based violence centers had been allocated Ksh. 2 million more from Ksh. 5 million to help cater for all the required equipment within the institutions before official opening.
Other county departments interrogated were that on Trade, Environment, Public Service among others. Interrogations continues.