State could deny coun­ties in­come from land rates

Trea­sury CS Rotich says plans are un­der­way to en­sure state build­ings in the coun­ties are ex­empted from rates

The Star (Kenya) - - Politics Parliament - NO PROPER RECORDS JAMES MBAKA @onchir­im­baka

The na­tional govern­ment and the coun­ties are headed for a ma­jor clash over rev­enue gen­er­a­tion af­ter the Trea­sury yes­ter­day said it will ex­empt state build­ings from land rates.

Na­tional Trea­sury Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary Henry Rotich told the Se­nate the now-de­funct lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and govern­ment min­istries do not have proper records of the debts owed, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to set­tle them.

He said the last time most govern­ment en­ti­ties paid rates and rent was in 1999. Rotich told the Se­nate Pub­lic Ac­counts and In­vest­ments Com­mit­tee dis­cus­sions are un­der­way to ex­empt pay­ment of levies to the county gov­ern­ments for govern­ment build­ings.

“I am not sure whether govern­ment agen­cies should pay land rates. We are dis­cussing with all stake­hold­ers, in­clud­ing the county gov­ern­ments and the Lands min­istry, to ar­rive at a de­ci­sion whether govern­ment en­ti­ties should pay rates,” he said.

Rotich said there is need to clar­ify the data to know the min­istries which have paid and those with ar­rears. He said min­istries, de­part­ments and govern­ment agen­cies should pay for wa­ter and elec­tric­ity to the de­volved units, not rates and rent.

The CS de­fended the Trea­sury against gov­er­nors’ crit­i­cism, say­ing the min­istry has cleared all the money owed to the county gov­ern­ments.

Gov­er­nors have ac­cused the na­tional govern­ment of with­hold­ing bil­lions of shillings in un­paid rent and land rates, starv­ing the coun­ties of in­come.

The county chiefs who have ap­peared be­fore the Se­nate to re­spond to au­dit queries blamed huge pend­ing bills on the Trea­sury.

PIAC chair­man Anyang’ Ny­ong’o ex­pressed con­cern that the de­ci­sion could deny the coun­ties a key source of rev­enue and crip­ple their op­er­a­tions.

The Kisumu se­na­tor iden­ti­fied Nairobi and Mom­basa as some of the coun­ties which rely heav­ily on rev­enue raised from lo­cal sources, such as land rates.

STATE AC­CUSED OF NOT PAYING UP

Nairobi Gover­nor Evans Kidero has filed a pe­ti­tion be­fore the Se­nate to com­pel the na­tional govern­ment to pay Sh60 bil­lion in rates owed to the county. Kidero said the govern­ment has failed to clear its debts, most of them un­paid rent and land rates. Rotich told the Se­nate the process of trans­fer­ring as­sets and li­a­bil­i­ties from the now-de­funct lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to the county gov­ern­ments will be com­pleted by March next year. Cur­rently, the re­spon­si­bil­ity of trans­fer­ring as­sets and li­a­bil­i­ties, in­clud­ing tax ar­rears, statu­tory de­duc­tions such as NHIF, NSSF and Paye, from the de­funct au­thor­i­ties to the county gov­ern­ments is as­signed to the In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Tech­ni­cal Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee.

/HEZRON NJOROGE

Na­tional Trea­sury Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary Henry Rotich be­fore the Se­nate Pub­lic Ac­counts and In­vest­ments Com­mit­tee yes­ter­day

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