In Summary
  • It is estimated that own-source revenue collection of counties is about a third, at best a half, of what it should or could be.

  • The message is, they should work harder in collecting revenue that they are entitled to.

  • Counties should work flat out in getting their financial houses in order and strengthening their financial bases.

The oft-recurrent impasse over the allocation of revenue to the counties should be seen in the wider and bigger picture of income constraints versus expenditure demands and in the context of what could be collected but is not against what is spent versus what should not have been.

LEAKAGES

Most local governments have often faced considerable challenges raising revenue. The genesis of the problem is that governments, both national and local, have struggled to raise sufficient money through taxes, levies and fees to pay for even the basic services they are obligated to offer.

Devolution is widely acknowledged as a huge step forward in bringing goods and services closer to the people. But it has come at a massive cost. The counties, too, have struggled to solidify a strong revenue and collection base to pay for even a modicum of those devolved services.

Factor in issues such as bloated workforces with too many employees in the wrong places and too few where there should be more and the net result is low productivity and service provision. Add to that corruption, which means the revenue base is punctured with leakages and significant losses.

Yes, it can be argued that counties inherited much of the baggage from the old system but they, and they alone, must introduce the relevant measures to rationalise their operations.

There are several examples of unnecessary or extravagant expenditure binges on everything from junket trips to very expensive wheelbarrows and, of course, putting fire engines on the convoy to upcountry visits!

UNSUSTAINABLE

If you traverse the country, you can tell almost instantly which counties give better value for money than others. A good example is Makueni, where there is a noticeable hive of activity on infrastructure support and maintenance. If one goes to the even bigger picture of support from the national government, there are the inevitable problems.

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