Nineteen counties spent less than 20 percent of the money allocated for development running into billions of shillings in the first nine months of the financial year 2021/22, a new report has revealed.
The Controller of Budget (CoB) Margaret Nyakang’o names Taita Taveta, Machakos, Baringo, Nairobi City, Lamu, Narok and Wajir counties on the list of the poorest spenders of development billions.
Others were Nyandarua, Kisumu, Kiambu, Turkana, West Pokot, Trans Nzoia, Siaya, Garissa Kilifi, Elgeyo Marakwet, Vihiga, and Migori all of which recorded an absorption rate below 20 percent.
County Governments have consistently been accused of poor budget absorption and the new report shines fresh spotlight on the paradox of idle billions amid gaping development needs in the devolved units.
The Public Finance Management Act, 2012, requires county governments to spend a minimum of 30 per cent of their budgets on development.
The absorption threshold is seen as a good measure or benchmark to determine the efficiency of specific counties in utilising public resources. Low budget absorption hampers infrastructural development and productivity of the counties and is a blow for residents of a county.
One of the reasons often cited for the failure by counties to meet targeted expenditure is the procurement processes that tend to be time-consuming, analysts say.
“A total of 19 counties recorded an absorption rate of less than 20 percent of development expenditure,” says the report.
“Development expenditure amounted to Sh44.3 billion representing an absorption rate of 22.8 per cent and a decline from 25.1 per cent attained in the first nine months of Financial Year 2020/21 when total development expenditure was Sh48.45 billion.”
The absorption rate is computed as a percentage of actual expenditure against approved budget allocation in the analysis. Taita Taveta had the lowest absorption rate of 2.9 percent followed by Machakos County at 5.5 percent.
The report shows only three counties attained an absorption rate above 50 per cent, namely, Kitui at 53 percent, Mombasa at 51.5 percent, and Marsabit at 50.6 percent.
The total expenditure by County governments in the first nine months of the financial year 2021/22 was Sh257.18 billion, representing an absorption rate of 48.7 per cent of the total annual County Governments’ budget.
This increased from an absorption rate of 44.2 per cent reported in a similar period in FY 2020/21, where total expenditure was Sh221.39 billion.
The absorption of recurrent budgets was however much higher than that of development budgets.