Counties

Counties revenue collection down Sh2bn in nine months

tourists

Tourists watch as wildebeests cross Mara river in the world-famous Maasai Mara Game Reserve in 2016. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Revenue collection by counties dropped by more than Sh2 billion in the nine months to March compared to a similar period last year, highlighting the impact of coronavirus disruptions on devolved units’ tax and levy collections.

Controller of Budget (CoB) data shows that the 47 devolved units raised Sh25.5 billion in the period under review, a 8.9 percent dip from Sh28 billion raised in the nine months to March last year.

The decline came at a time businesses across the country remained disrupted in the wake of the restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease.

The restrictions included dusk-to-dawn curfew, movement bans into four counties including Nairobi and Mombasa, ban on social gatherings, and closure of bars.

The measures in turn hurt taxes and levies due from streams like Single Business Permits (SBPs), market rates from traders, parking and cess for lorries ferrying agricultural produce and construction materials across counties.

“County governments generated Sh25.52 billion, which was 45.6 percent of the annual target of Sh56.02 billion. This was a decrease compared to Sh28.04 billion generated in a similar period of FY 2019/20,” the CoB says in the report.

An analysis of the data shows that the tourism-reliant county of Narok posted the biggest decline in collections in the period under review.

Narok County, home to the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, raised Sh453.29 million, a fall of 79.2 percent from Sh2.18 billion collected in the corresponding period to March last year.

Thousands of foreign and local tourists who usually flock to the Maasai Mara to witness the wildebeest migration did not show up for the spectacle last year even as the State eased the restrictions and allowed the resumption of domestic and international flights.

June and October is the high season of the wildebeest migration but Narok stared at losses in the absence of the tourists setting the stage for a dismal year in revenue collections.

Isiolo recorded the biggest drop at 76.5 percent to raise Sh26.8 million followed by the neighbouring Samburu that collected Sh49.7 million, a 75.8 percent drop from the corresponding period last year.