Counties in Kenya Grapple with a Whopping Ksh165 Billion in Pending Bills
Author: Dennis Njore
In a fiscal rollercoaster, Kenya's counties find themselves engulfed in a financial quandary, with a
billion in pending bills from the last financial year. The situation was unveiled by the Office of
the Controller of
Budget (CoB), sending shockwaves across the nation. Nairobi County, in particular, bore the brunt,
reporting the highest
tally of pending bills for the year 2022/2023, amassing a jaw-dropping Ksh107.33 billion. On the
flip side, Elgeyo
Marakwet emerges as the outlier, with a mere Ksh18 million left to clear, according to the County
Dr. Margaret Nyakang’o, the Controller of Budget, has weighed in on this dire situation, emphasizing
that settling these
pending bills should be the foremost priority for county governments, as it aligns with the law.
Nyakang’o has urged counties to draft realistic budgets with attainable revenue targets and address
bills through legal means.
Shockingly, the audit has illuminated a proclivity among counties to disproportionately allocate
funds toward personnel
emoluments, contravening the stipulated 35% limit of total revenue set by the Public Finance
Governments) Regulations, 2015. The data reveals an overwhelming Ksh195.09 billion allocated to
which, alarmingly, constitutes 45.5% of the total expenditure, indicating an increase from the
previous financial year.
Digging deeper into the fiscal abyss, counties have expended Ksh135.83 billion on operations and
development spending has witnessed a marginal dip, now standing at Ksh97.98 billion. The silver
lining is that a select
few counties, including West Pokot, Mandera, Samburu, Kericho, Nandi, and Homa Bay, have maintained
rates, surpassing the 80% threshold for development budgets. In contrast, Kilifi, Kisii, Kiambu, and
recorded the lowest absorption rates, highlighting the diversity in financial management across the
Interestingly, some counties, such as Turkana, Tana River, Mandera, Kwale, and Samburu, have
successfully adhered to the
35% ceiling for personnel emoluments, serving as beacons of fiscal prudence.
Turning the spotlight on county executives' budgets, the figures for the fiscal year totaled an
billion. Although the financial landscape shows signs of turbulence, there are glimpses of hope.
collection by counties has increased from Ksh35.9 billion in the previous fiscal year to Ksh37.8
billion, constituting a
commendable 66% of the Ksh57 billion annual target. A select group of counties, including Lamu,
Kirinyaga, and Kitui,
have outperformed their annual revenue targets, showcasing fiscal dexterity.
Nevertheless, a less rosy picture emerges for 44 counties that fell short of achieving their revenue
Marsabit, Mandera, Murang’a, Wajir, Kisumu, and Kericho reported figures below 50% performance,
variances in revenue collection efficiency.
Controller Nyakang’o has pinpointed several factors contributing to this fiscal conundrum.
Under-performance in revenue
collection, low development budget expenditure, the looming specter of high pending bills, bloated
and delayed submission of financial and non-financial reports have collectively derailed effective
budget execution. She
has fervently called upon counties to revamp revenue collection strategies and prioritize the
development programs to uplift the living standards of their constituents.
In the wake of this financial storm, Kenya's counties find themselves at a crossroads, with the
imperative of prudent
fiscal management and responsible governance becoming more pressing than ever before. The road ahead
will undoubtedly be
challenging, but the nation's future prosperity hinges on how effectively these issues are addressed