Who should Nairobians believe in City Hall’s Sh6billion revenue figures contradiction?
Confusion has emerged at City Hall over conflicting figures of over Sh6 billion in internal revenue collected by the county government in the just concluded financial year.
This follows the release of inconsistent figures by acting Finance and Economic Planning executive Mr Charles Kerich and JamboPay, a firm contracted by the county to collect revenue on its behalf, chief executive Mr Danson Muchemi last week.
While speaking to journalists at the sidelines of the Assembly after reading the county’s 2018/2019 financial year budget statement on Tuesday, June 26, Mr Kerich said that the county achieved about Sh8.2 billion in local revenue against a target of Sh17 billion.
He said the poor performance can be attributed to a variety of factors such as the long electioneering period, weak enforcement in revenue collection and the waiver of the cess fees with another blame falling on lack of a proper systems to ensure that major revenue generating streams including rates, parking and outdoor services are generating revenue at optimum.
“You have heard that this year our revenue was just about Sh8 billion shillings. We are not wholly to blame as each of the 47 counties had a drop in revenue this financial year because of six months period of campaign,” Kerich said.
“In Nairobi, we had also one month of demonstrations so we lost revenue for over seven months and that really worked against us,” he added.
But while appearing before the ICT committee last week Wednesday, the JamboPay chief executive told the committee that they had managed to collect Sh14.6 billion for the financial year 2017/2018.
This is a contradiction to Mr Kerich’s assertions during budget presentation where his figure was Sh6.4 billion less than Mr Muchemi’s.
But what might appear to show that all is not well between the firm and the county government, the acting Finance executive hinted towards exploring other revenue collection options for the county when JamboPay’s contract lapses in April, 2019.
The firm was contracted by City Hall in 2014 under the regime of former governor Dr Evans Kidero and has managed to digitize more than 100 of the over 126 revenue streams.
“You have the complaints against the current provider that sometimes it is not very transparent. The platform is coming to an end in April, 2019 I have discussed with my colleagues and I will be appointing a business transition task force to advise the county on how to move,” Kerich said.
Mr Kerich added that the county intends to put in place systems that will ensure the smooth flow of financial management of the county, stating that they are exploring three options: whether to engage another private firm, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) or go it alone and follow Kwale County’s example.
“We have considered many ways of dealing with our revenue. One could be either to engage the current company or company offering similar services, number two work with KRA which has offered to do the revenue for us or number three, we could establish our own revenue collection platform,” said Mr Kerich.
In what could point towards the county going it alone in revenue collection after the expiry of JamboPay’s contract, the acting Finance executive lauded the initiative by Kwale County, called Kwale Pay, hailing it as very efficient and transparent.
“Running your own system is very advantageous but I do not want to be the one to make the whole decision. I will bring the team from ICT, Revenue, and Finance to look at the three possibilities but the important thing of running your own system is that it gives you visibility and access to all the information that you require,” he said.
Nonetheless, Mr Muchemi defended its firm’s revenue collection performance but he acknowledged that last year’s revenue was a drop compared to other years the firm has been in business with the county where upwards of Sh15 billion have been realized.
“It should be noted that at first we only used to collect from 4 or 5 revenue streams and it is only this year that we were given the mandate for all the streams,” he said.