A total of 96 sub-locations in Baringo County have been identified to benefit from Sh800 million in Equalization Funds (EF) to enable the marginalized areas left behind to be at par with other developed regions of the country.
According to Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) CEO/Secretary James Katule, the funds allocated for the 2023/2024 financial year will see both Tiaty East and West get the lion’s share of Sh421.8 million, as Mogotio and Marigat subcounties each benefit from Sh135 and Sh111 million, respectively, while Baringo North will receive Sh71.6 million for the implementation of basic social services like water, roads, health, and electricity.
Katule, who was leading a team of officials for a three-day visit to the county, said Baringo was captured in the second policy after missing out in the first policy, where 14 counties benefited.
He stated that projects that would be identified and implemented through the equalization fund kitty would be under the supervision of the county commissioner, who would act as a representative of the national government in partnership with the county government.
The CEO, who paid a courtesy call on Baringo Governor Benjamin Cheboi in his Kabarnet office Tuesday, said the Commission is evaluating the implementation structure of the fund with the help of county governments in order to make it a success.
‘During our first policy, we received some complaints from stakeholders that the Equalization Fund was being implemented largely by the national government and that there were challenges in monitoring projects that we wanted to address,’ he said.
Katule stated that there were some areas they were focusing on, like health, which is a devolved function, and they were contemplating whether it could be taken over by the county government and incorporated into their integrated development plan to ensure continuity and sustainability.
The Commission Secretary said they were in the vast and arid county to visit the selected sublocations to interact with grassroot leaders and wananchi and also feel and appreciate the level of marginalization.
Among the marginalized sub-locations identified to benefit from the EF are Baringo North (8), Baringo South (12), Mogotio (18), Baringo Central (2), and Tiaty, which will have a lion’s share of 56.
Governor Cheboi said in his remarks that the disbursement, which he had pushed for in 2013 during his first term in office, is a welcome boost to the vast county since it would go a long way in improving the lives of residents in the selected areas.
The Baringo boss, accompanied by County Secretary Jacob Chepkwony and County Executive Committee (CEC) Members Dr. Solomon Sirma (Health), Wilson Cheserek (Economic Planning), Rev. Symon Kiuta (Education), Richard Tamar (Water), and Eng. Lekonaya Kibwalel, expressed satisfaction with the list of the selected sub-locations, saying they were in dire need of basic services.
However, Governor Cheboi said there was a need for the Commission to consider devolving the implementation and funds of projects that fall under county governments for smooth supervision and monitoring to guarantee ownership and sustainability.
He pointed out that most of the projects implemented under the fund ended up remaining white elephants upon completion because the Commission does factor in funds for maintenance and the payment of allowances for staff. He cited the case of a dispensary erected in a far-flung area like Akoret but with no money to pay hardship allowance to the officer.
‘There must be a conditional grant to meet the hardship allowances for staff so that we don’t eat into the appropriated budget of the counties. Take, for example, a hardship county that is allocated an annual budget of Sh5 billion but has no money to cater for the hardship allowance, which is 30 per cent of the basic salary. This ends up consuming a huge chunk of a county allocation,’ Governor Cheboi said.
He called upon the equalization committee to develop more regulations in consultation with the Council of Governors in order to address some of the gaps that were likely to hinder faster implementation of projects.
County Commissioner Stephen Kutwa, while lauding the programme, said all committee members have received sufficient training on its implementation and are good to go.
He stated that the vast county, which has a fair share of challenges, especially in health, will benefit when the identified projects come into fruition.
‘In Marigat sub-county hospital, for example, we do not have a theatre and patients are always referred to the county headquarters and other major towns like Nakuru and Eldoret for normal surgery and specialized treatment,’ he said.
Kutwa, who spoke on Wednesday at his office, pointed out that the education sector, especially in Tiaty Constituency, which has few schools, would be boosted and would see a greater transition of children from primary schools to secondary schools.
The Equalization Fund established under Article 204 of the 2010 Constitution is meant to be used as a conditional grant for utilization of targeted basic infrastructure and services in marginalized areas to bring the level of basic services in such areas to the same level as that of other parts of the country.
Source: Kenya News Agency