County spending under focus as CRA launches data portal

Data on county government spending is set to be more accessible through an integrated online portal unveiled yesterday.

Commission on Revenue Allocation in partnership with Kenya Association of Manufactures, with technical support from the European Union has launched The Integrated Devolution Data Portal aimed at enhancing accountability levels in County governments.

Among the data to be included in the portal is the revenue allocation to each county, equitable share per capita allocation and conditional grants to counties.

Others are counties own source revenue, county own source revenue per capita, county revenue per capita, and budget ceilings on recurrent expenditures.

“The portal aims at collecting and aggregating resources and simplifying access to data, news, county websites, and task performance tools through single-log-in profiles.” CRA chairperson, Jane Kiringai said during her keynote speech at the launch held in a Nairobi hotel.

Kiringai added that it is their mandate to provide advice on financing county government, and provide information to the public so that they are able to interrogate their county activities from a knowledge point of view.

The portal comes at a time when devolution in the country faces challenges including overdependence on the national government for finances, unstructured mechanism to sustain investment attraction to counties, inconsistent county regulatory frameworks and lack of a national framework to guide counties in policy and legislations affecting business.

Currently in its pilot phase, the portal has narrowed its focus to five counties which include Nairobi, Kwale, Migori, Nyeri and Wajir. It will be expanded to other counties within the next 18 months.

ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru said that the information in the portal will also include County legislation, public participation forums, revenue laws, equitable share expenditures essential in decision making particularly for investment and business.

KAM said the portal will encourage counties to explore their natural advantages to attract investment and help centralize industrialization.

In line with the portal benefits, is its ability to help identify marginalized areas whose projects are mainly funded by the Equalization fund.

During the launch, CRA together with other key stakeholders also embarked on discussions to review the first policy on marginalized areas that was established on February 2013.

The outcomes of the discussions will help in structuring the process of sharing revenue from the Equalization fund from financial years 2018/2019 for a further period of five years.

The portal will also serve as a central national repository for information on county legislation and devolution related issues in all the 47 counties, and county taxation legislation among other functions.

Since the onset of devolution, the equalization fund has accumulated a total of sh28billion. In December 2016, the funds advisory board identified projects in the 14 marginalized counties through a participatory process and allocated sh12.4 billion for various projects for the financial 2016/2017.

The 14 counties which include, Turkana, Mandera, Wajir, Marsabit, Samburu, West Pokot, Tana River, Narok, Kwale, Garissa, Kilifi, Taita Taveta, Isiolo, and Lamu were published in the 2013 policy on marginalized areas by CRA.

In the current 2017/2018 financial year, the board allocated an additional Sh7.7 billion to the same counties.

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