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City Hall operations grinding to a halt as Sonko-MCAs budget stalemate bites

Nairobi County government is staring at total paralysis as a result of Governor Mike Sonko’s refusal to authorise withdrawal of cash from the county’s accounts.

This as the budget impasse between Sonko and the Nairobi County Assembly continues with the county government unable to implement the Sh37.5 billion budget.

City Hall employees, MCAs and assembly staff have not been paid salaries for the last two months because of the budget stalemate.

The budget was passed by MCAs in October but the governor declined to assent to the Nairobi City County Appropriations Bill, 2020 referring the bill back to the assembly through a memorandum.

The memorandum was later rejected by the assembly on November 3 before the bill was gazetted into law a week later after the governor still refused to append his signature on the same budget.

The contested budget allocated Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) Sh27.1 billion, leaving Mr Sonko’s administration with Sh8.4 billion and the county assembly with Sh2 billion.

Nairobi county has been using Vote on Accounts, which is 25 percent of the annual budget or approximately Sh8.5 billion, to run its recurrent expenditure since June.

However, this was stopped last month by the Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakango after the passage of the budget.

Governor Sonko’s spokesperson Ben Mulwa confirmed the use of the Vote on Account was stopped leaving the county government unable to run both recurrent and development expenditure until the new budget is uploaded to release the funds.

However, Mulwa said, the contested budget cannot be implemented without Governor Sonko signing warrants – a document authorising withdrawal of funds from the County Revenue Fund – throwing the entire county into disarray.

Mr Mulwa said the National Treasury, Controller of Budget and also the Central Bank require the warrants to be able to implement a budget as a result the county government is technically grounded.

“Everyone is stuck and we cannot move because without the warrants funds cannot be withdrawn. Everybody is grounded. MCAs and county staff are likely to stay without salaries for the next six months as it is impossible to pay them without the budget,” Mr Mulwa said.

Nairobi County Assembly Speaker Benson Mutura confirmed they cannot access any funds and the Vote on Accounts that the assembly depended on has been exhausted.

This, he said, means that MCAs and assembly staff will not be getting their salaries going forward as there is no more money to spend and the CoB can also not release any fund with Governor Sonko signing the warrants.

“No one can access any fund, not the assembly, NMS or Nairobi County government. That is the problem we are currently facing. We are staring at a paralysis just because the governor has not signed the warrants,” said Mr Mutura said.