Is NASA promise to counties a mirage?

NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga addresses a political rally.

NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga has promised to cede 45 per cent of Government revenue to counties should he form the next government.

“When we take over government, we shall ensure at least 45 per cent of Kenya’s total budget is sent to counties. This can only happen if you vote for NASA. On August 8, let’s send Jubilee home,” Odinga said on the campaign trail, an assertion he has repeated many times over.

While it might sound perfect and a major step towards empowering counties, there is a major hurdle that would make it impractical to execute.

Here is why it is a near impossibility.

Kenya Revenue Authority is the body that collects taxes on behalf of the government, and has more often than not fallen short of the target.

In the past year, the agency was tasked to collect Sh1.3 trillion but had fallen behind by the half-year mark.

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Assuming the unlikely outcome that KRA is able to meet its target, counties would be given Sh585 billion under a NASA government – nearly twice the amount they have been collectively allocated.

The fixed expenses the Government has in its usual operations, salaries for civil servants and debt repayments alone gobble up over Sh1 trillion.

Adding other recurrent expenditures such as maintenance of infrastructure would already have surpassed the total revenue collections.

For any new State-funded projects to be undertaken, the money could only be realised through borrowing.

Remember no allocations have been made to counties yet in our calculations, meaning that it is not possible to grant counties 45 per cent of the total collections – without borrowing heavily to finance the rest of the needs.

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