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Covid 19: Governors say counties are unfunded not unprepared

By Hillary Mageka On Tue, 20 Apr, 2021 12:40 | 2 mins read
Chairman CoG & Embu Governor Martin Wambora. PHOTO | COURTESY

Governors stated that delay in release of funds and lack of testing capacity is weakening the country’s fight against the pandemic.

Lack of resources occasioned by delay in the disbursement of the County Equitable share of revenue by the National Treasury has continued to weaken the country’s fight against the pandemic, Governors have warned.

In a statement sent to newsrooms on Tuesday, the Council of Governors (Cog) noted currently County Governments are owed equitable share for three (3) months.
Given the delayed disbursements, the council has disclosed that counties use bank overdrafts to pay County Staff.

“In light of the delay, Counties are unable to pay the statutory deductions as required by law on the 9th of every month. In this regard, KRA needs to take cognizance of the prevailing situation as this has not only affected statutory remittances but also payment of contractors and allowances for Members of County Assemblies,” said a statement by Cog Chairman Governor Martin Wambora (Embu)

Wambora went on: “The Council, therefore, urges the County Assemblies to join the Executive in engaging the National Treasury to release the funds to Counties,”

“Further, the Council will convene a meeting with the Commissioner-General, Kenya Revenue Authority to find an amicable solution to the issue as we are aware that non-remittance of statutory deductions affects the collection of taxes,” the governor added.

The 47 county governments who are central to the fight against the pandemic since they are in charge of health services, also claim that they are straining to supplement the current oxygen and ICU bed capacity.

In the wake of the 3rd wave of COVID-19 pandemic, the counties argue they are currently spending huge resources in isolation facilities for healthcare workers to cater for their accommodation and food during the 14 day quarantine period.

“A case in point is Kakamega County who is spending KSH.8 million per month which is not factored in the current budget. We further note that resources are given to County Governments of KSH. 5 Billion during the 1st wave was specifically for the procurement of isolation and ICU beds,” the Council observed.

“In this regard, the Council requests the National Government to extend additional support to the County Governments to enable them to enhance their response measures in light of the current wave,” the statement held.

The Cog Chairman lamented that as devolved units continue to be on the frontline in the fight against the spread of the virus, they are however concerned about an increase in COVID-19 infections in the Counties, which is aggravated by their inability to conduct testing due to lack of testing kits.

“This is a major challenge as the virus is spreading rapidly and is overwhelming Counties,” the statement said.

According to the council, they will fast-track engagements with the Ministry of Health to finalize the arrangements with the willing development partners to avail free rapid testing kits (antigens) and PCR COVID-19 testing equipment to all Counties as soon as possible.

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