Governors fight claims of ‘illegally’ funding council

Governors have defended themselves against allegations that they are using county resources to fund the activities of their association, the Council of Governors.

Kisii Governor James Ongwae who is the council’s Labour and Social Welfare Chairman refuted the claims yesterday ‘terming them malicious and unsolicited’.

Some MPs have previously claimed that over Sh333 million has been contributed annually to the council for the last three years.

Documents submitted by the Ministry of Devolution suggested that county governments has been remitting monies to the governors grouping, funds which are not approved by county assemblies, as required by law.

The official papers tabled in the Senate in April this year in response to an inquiry showed that remitted funds were used to pay CoG Nairobi headquarters at Delta House and governors’ own liaison offices.

But Mr Ongwae said it was regrettable that national government had starved CoG of their lawful allocation, forcing the devolved units to dig deeper to their pockets to finance their activities.

Ongwae lamented that since the advent of devolution the National Treasury has denied the council of funds despite the constitution giving the provision for the exchequer to allocate funds to it.

“We may hide our heads in the sand but we have a problem on how as a council of governors we run day to day of our activities,” Ongwae said.

He appealed to senators to mediate and force the exchequer disburse money to the council.

Ongwae, who is also the Kisii County Governor appealed to the Kisumu Senator Anyang’ Ny’ong’o led committee to sympathize with the county chiefs for irrationally financing governor’s council using public funds allocated to counties for developmental purposes.

However, committee members Nyandarua senator Muriuki Karue and Nyamira senator Mongare Bw’okongo questioned why the governors had not sought the intervention of the senate but instead arbitrarily continue to remit funds to the council in total violation of the law.

The two held that payments by the county governments were illegal because, under the Intergovernmental Relations Act, the operational expenses of the council are provided for in the Budget through the Devolution Ministry.

The committee chair Kisumu Senator Anyang Nyong’o promised the county bosses that he will be intervening for the council through the senate.

“We will consider your requests but till then there must be prudent way of using public funds. However, we will also reflect on your proposal we write our audit reports, we will see what we will propose for the senate to adopt,” Nyong’o reckoned.

Under the law, the council of governors as created under the Inter-Governmental Relations Act 2012 section 19 should be financed through the annual estimates of the revenue and expenditure of the national government as per Section 37 of the act.

During the session, Ongwae was also hard pressed to explain why his Kisii county executive government had spent collected revenue at source against the public Finance Management Act 2012.

The Auditor General Dr. Edward Ouko in his annual report disclosed that Kisii Teaching and referral Hospital had collected revenue totalling over Kshs 1,835, 591 between July 2013 and February 2014.

The Auditor stated the money was not banked but was used directly from the accounts.

In his defence, the governor Ongwae told the senators at times counties are compelled to use the monies collected as revenue to mitigate various crises that arise in the devolved units.

“When we collect this revenue and deposit it in the national treasury it takes a lot

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