Mr. James Katule, the Director of Fiscal Affairs at the Commission on Revenue Allocation was the key speaker at this year’s SOA Alumni Cocktail. Standing in for the Chairman Mr. Micah Cheserem, Mr. Katule was gave insights into some of the tangible benefits of devolution as well as explaining the various challenges that the country faces.
He explained the mandate of the Commission as concerns recommending equitable sharing among the various counties. They also recommend on the financing of and financial management by county governors.
‘Sharing the cake’ and ‘Baking the cake.’
By law, Counties are given powers to raise their own revenue and some counties like Nakuru, Machakos, and Kiambu have improved the way funds are collection via digitization. Others struggle to collect their own revenue.
As concerns sharing of funds, everybody complains that the money is not enough. This is caused by disputes of funding, corruption and low levels of civic education. The county wage bill is also another challenge with several counties having former employees of local authorities, employees from central government, and others employed by county government.
Mr. Katule explained some of the successes and showed the audience graphical images like incubators at a Samburu hospital, heavy agricultural equipment in Uasin Gichu, an operating theatre in Mandera, CT scans in Kisii, Water supply, Agriculture and Early Childhood Education. In some cases, before and after images were used that caught the attention of the audience.
Other benefits of devolution include more citizen awareness. An example of the wheelbarrows in Bungoma being pointed out – they would have probably passed unnoticed in the previous dispensation.
However, low revenue collection, misappropriation of funds, bloated workforces and internal disputes remain key challenges. The disease of corruption is also a major hindrance with the fact that out of the initial 43 CECs in charge of finance, about 20 have been fired or transferred.
Though some counties appear to be in danger of disintegration, most are ascending.
There are also several opportunities within counties, like jobs for accountants and opportunities for investors. There are also several opportunities for women and youth.
Mr. Katule pointed out the need for more citizen participation in county affairs. This is important because ‘Some things are beyond corruption… They are simply theft of public money.’
The event was sponsored by ACCA and KASNEB who also gave remarks, both pointing out the need and importance of registering with professional bodies.
As tradition in SOA Alumni events, attendants received awards for their participation in the social media challenge under the hashtag #SOAAlumni