Counties make efforts to automate systems, widen tax base

By Ronald Owili

Despite the effort made by the County governments to automate and widen their revenue collection, it emerges that lack of skilled personnel who can develop revenue enhancement laws contributes majorly to the poor performance in collection.

The office of the Controller of Budget says counties are only meeting an average of 69.3 percent of their set targets.

The 2015/2016 Annual County Budget Implementation Review report by the office of the Controller of Budget indicates that combined county governments’ budget approved by county assemblies amounted to 367.33 billion shillings, of which they were to collect 50 billion shillings with the remainder coming from the national government and other grants.

In the proposed 2017/2018 budget, Counties are set to share out a total of 352 billion shillings, if the proposal is passed by the National Assembly as it is.

Even with that, the Counties are still constrained in meeting development and recurrent expenses often breaching the ceiling set by the office of the Controller of Budget.

To supplement allocation from the central government, Counties have embarked on generating revenue from own sources and automation to reduce leakages.

However they are still not meeting the targets as they lack legal and administrative framework.

Commission on Revenue Allocation Legal Director Sheila Yieke says, “Because counties have now already identified the sources of own revenue with the most potential, they now need to urgently enhance revenue from these sources’’.

Revenue collected by all the 47 counties contributed only 8.1 percent of total County budgets.

Office of the Controller of Budget Deputy Director Stephen Masha says counties continuously miss revenue targets due to weak enforcement resulting from lack of skilled workforce and an absence of up to date database of respective tax bases.

He adds, “Presently, no County can sustain their own budgets without the remittance from the national government allocation.”

Those targeted are revenue officials and MCAs in Finance and Budget Committees.

Further, no county has raised revenue from local sources of more than a tenth of the entire budget. In the 2015/2016 financial year, Nakuru collected the highest revenue target at 99.3%, followed by Kericho at 98.7% and Laikipia at 94.2%.

The Council of Governors is also calling for an increment in allocation to at least 45%.