Counties wage bill rises to 70pc of expenditure
Counties wage bill has defied all efforts to stop its rise, shooting up to over 70 per cent of total expenditure in six months to December, official data shows.
Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo says in her latest report that emoluments to county workers hit Sh66.4 billion from the Sh61.8 billion in a similar period a year earlier.
This is the biggest spend on the wage bill since the start of devolution when county workers were paid Sh19.6 billion in the year ended June, 2014.
It is also the first time that spending on personnel emoluments over a period of six months has eaten over half of the total expenditure budget.
“The office noted continued increase in wage bill and recommends County Governments to ensure that expenditure on Personnel Emoluments should be contained at sustainable levels and in compliance with the Public Finance Management (County Governments) Regulations, 2015,” said Ms Odhiambo.
Tharaka Nithi spent 94.4 per cent of total expenditure on personal emoluments, recording the highest percentage followed by Meru at 92.5 per cent and Embu at 86.5 per cent.
Nairobi led counties with highest bill on personnel emolument at Sh6.63 billion, followed by Kakamega at Sh2.69 billion and Kiambu Counties at Sh2.46 billion.
In March, Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich declined a request by counties for additional Sh11.6 billion for doctors and nurses’ salaries as provided for in the Collective Bargaining Agreement signed last year.
Mr Rotich instead asked the counties to work within the Sh314 billion allocated to them, meaning that they will have to adjust their development budgets.
In the four months to October, the counties endured a cash crunch following contradictions in the Senate’s approved disbursement schedule and the cash allocation law approved by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
At the close of the first quarter that ended in September, none of the 47 counties had received their allocations, which compelled the Treasury to loan them Sh20.3 billion to pay workers’ salaries.
Total allocation to the counties in the current financial year stands at Sh329.96 billion, which consists of the equitable share of national government revenue, conditional grants from the State and conditional loans and grants from development partners.
MPs in the previous (11th) Parliament agreed to allocate the counties Sh302 billion in the Division of Revenue Bill saving them an impending operation crisis in the current financial year.