KNA The county government of Kwale has recorded a loss of Sh.71 million in the 2020/2021 financial year due to the Covid-19 disruptions.
According to a report tabled at the County Assembly by Finance, Budget and Appropriation Committee on the County Budget Review and outlook paper of 2020, the report shows that the county government local revenue collection dropped from Sh.325 million to Sh. 254 million.
The damning report by the regional assembly indicates that public money collected daily ends up in the pockets of dishonest county employees and cartels.
The report further states the drop in revenue collection resulted from the Covid-19 pandemic following a prolonged waiver of county fees and levies and dwindling of business activities across the county.
In the Financial year 2020/2021, the County Government received Sh9.09 billion from the exchequer as equitable share and raised Sh. 254 million.
The report acknowledges that Covid-19 took Kenya and the world by storm bringing financial hardships and economic recessions.
However, members of the assembly led by Member of County Assembly (MCA) for Kasemeni Ward, Anthony Yama differed with the reasons given by the committee on the drop in revenue collection citing major cases of malpractices among revenue collecting officers.
“It’s not yet clear how our revenue dropped by this wide margin. We must fix this from the revenue collection points before the blame is shifted to the Covid -19 pandemic,” Yama said.
Yama added that the sector is a breeding site for corruption since revenue clerks are still using old and outdated means of revenue collection thus losing a lot of money before reaching the main office.
The MCA said unscrupulous revenue clerks usually engage in forgery and embezzlement of public funds leading to diminishing incomes for the devolved unit.
He said the executive wing of the county should seal all the loopholes in which it is losing millions of shillings to theft.
“The finance department should think of leveraging modern technology to seal loopholes in revenue collection,” he said.
Ramisi ward MCA, Raia Mkungu said that the county has many resources that could benefit residents if the whole revenue collection exercise is well managed.
Mkungu urged the county authorities to put in place stringent measures to seal all the loopholes leading to loss of local revenue and enhance revenue collection which will in the long run increase money set aside for development.
He said the county granted prolonged waives to businesspeople without putting in place mitigation measures to help compensate for the revenue losses.
“Our county is rich. We have mineral deposits and natural resources but what we need is to put the right people and technology to manage this crucial sector,” he said.
However, the MCA blamed the executive for not putting effort into negotiating with the national government on how to get shares of the revenues generated by natural resources like national parks and reserves in the county.
”Our county has many natural resources that can generate billions of money, and what we need is a policy that can give us directions on how to benefit from these resources,” he said.
Kwale County enjoys a variety of natural resources like Shimba Hills National Park, Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park, Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary and the Kwale mineral sands operations.
“We need the county to find mechanisms of securing a share of royalties collected as a result of these resources that are domiciled in Kwale,” he said.
The two leaders said issues of corruption and wastage deny the devolved unit the resources it requires to deliver quality services to the public