Plans by Elgeyo Marakwet County Assembly to set aside Sh100 million for the official residences of both the governor and Speaker has hit a snag after the county boss said he will not assent to a budget that will cut down on development spending.
Governor Alex Tolgos said he is ready to forego his house allowance from July next year as stipulated by an October 2016 Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) circular as long as development funding remains intact.
According to the SRC, all counties should have constructed official residences for both the governor and Speaker as they will cease payment of rent for the two officers by June 30,2019.
The County Budget Committee chairman John Yator while tabling the 2018/2019 Annual Development Plan (ADP) had said that the county would experience a drastic reduction in the funding of flagship projects in a bid to fund the construction of the two residences.
But Mr Tolgos said it will not augur well for the assembly to alter projects which had been approved by wananchi.
“The ADP which had been presented to the assembly by the executive had been approved by wananchi and therefore it will be unfair to deny them development which they approved at the expense of the official residences,” the governor said.
He added that most of the projects that had been targeted were in agriculture, livestock and trade which touch at the core of the economy of the county.
According to the proposal presented in the assembly, trade was to lose Sh17 million, livestock Sh13 million while agriculture and roads Sh3 million each, among others.
The governor said while funding for the county from the treasury remained static, the budget for the assembly has been increasing with this year the House getting Sh24 million more thus eating into the county’s overall budget.
He, however, said he was not opposed to the assembly looking for funds from their savings in their recurrent expenditure to fund the construction of the Speaker’s residence.
The governor, serving his second term, said he will continue prioritising the development of the devolved unit.
According to Governor Tolgos, the county had sunk millions of shillings in the initial residence at Kamariny, which stalled after residents succeeded in convincing the court that they were not involved in public participation before the county embarked on its construction.
“I am willing to wait and continue engaging the public until we reach a consensus instead of using more money,” said Mr Tolgos.
In February 2016, the devolved unit suffered a blow after the High Court stopped the controversial construction of the Sh50 million governor’s residence inside the iconic Kamariny Stadium in Iten town.
Residents of Kamariny moved to court seeking to stop the construction of the multimillion palatial home, arguing that the county government ignored public input before starting the project. According to the petitioners, the county government did not engage the National Land Commission in line with the Constitution.