Counties

Nairobi faces service paralysis as Sonko keeps funds locked

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City Hall, Nairobi County's headquarters. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

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Summary

  • A budget impasse between Mr Sonko and the county assembly continues with the county government unable to implement the Sh37.5 billion budget.
  • City Hall employees, MCAs and assembly staff have not been paid salaries for the last two months because of the stalemate.
  • Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Benson Mutura faulted the governor for the impasse, likening Mr Sonko’s refusal to holding MCAs, county staff and residents at ransom.


Nairobi County government is staring at total service paralysis on Governor Mike Sonko’s refusal to authorise withdrawal of cash from City Hall’s accounts.

This as the budget impasse between Mr Sonko and the county assembly continues with the county government unable to implement the Sh37.5 billion budget.

City Hall employees, MCAs and assembly staff have not been paid salaries for the last two months because of the stalemate.

The budget was passed by ward representatives (MCAs) in October but the governor declined to assent to the Nairobi City County Appropriations Bill, 2020 referring the bill back to the assembly through a memorandum.

The memorandum was later rejected by the assembly on November 3 and the bill gazetted into law a week later.

The contested budget allocated Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) Sh27.1 billion, leaving Mr Sonko’s administration with Sh8.4 billion and the county assembly with Sh2 billion.

Nairobi County government has been using Vote on Accounts, which allows it to access 25 percent of the annual budget or approximately Sh8.5 billion – to run its recurrent expenditure since June.

However, this was stopped last month by the Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o after the passage of the budget.

Mr Sonko’s spokesperson Ben Mulwa confirmed that use of the Vote on Account was stopped leaving the county government unable to run both recurrent and development expenditure until the new budget is uploaded to enable release of funds to the county.

He said the contested budget cannot be implemented without Governor Sonko signing warrants – a document authorising withdrawal of funds from the County Revenue Fund.

The National Treasury, Controller of Budget and Central Bank require the warrants to implement a budget, the abscence of which has left the Nairobi county government technically grounded.

“Everyone is stuck and we cannot move because without the warrants, funds cannot be withdrawn. Everybody is grounded. MCAs and county staff are likely to stay without salaries for the next six months as it is impossible to pay them without the budget,” Mr Mulwa said.

Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Benson Mutura faulted the governor for the impasse, likening Mr Sonko’s refusal to holding MCAs, county staff and residents at ransom.

“No one can access any fund, not the assembly, NMS or Nairobi County government. That is the problem we are currently facing. We are staring at a paralysis just because the governor has not signed the warrants,” said Mr Mutura.