Makueni County Assembly on Wednesday 15 April, closed down its operations indefinitely due to a financial crisis.
The assembly procedures were brought to halt after the assembly spent all the funds for its 2014/2015 operations, one quarter before the closure of business for the financial year.
The assembly Budget Committee Chairperson Francis Mutuku told journalists in Wote, town that the assembly has a cash deficit of Sh155M occasioned by budget ceilings set by the Commission of Revenue Allocation (CRA) last year and could therefore, not continue running, prompting the closure.
“Our original budget of Sh674M was rejected after we lost a case on ceilings in which the County Assemblies Forum (CAF) had gone to court to seek an interpretation,” said Mutuku who also doubles as the Majority Leader.
The majority leader said that the county assembly would remain closed until such a time when the Sh155M will be available to enable the house to resume and carry on its operations until the end of the 2014/2015 financial year in June 30th .
Mutuku said following the cash crisis, the assembly has already started receiving a backlash from contractors and suppliers who owe the county assembly money for works already done in the financial year.
“They have threatened to go to court because of the money they owe the county assembly,” he added.
Nzambani/ Ivingoni Member of the County Assembly (MCA) Cosmas Nzilili regretted the closure but said it was unavoidable adding that MCAs cannot conduct house business without sitting allowances.
“We cannot perform our oversight role if we lack essential services like supplies of stationery and water among others,” said Nzilili.
Nguumo MCA John Mwenze took to his Facebook page to lament the closure of the house and underscored the need for the assembly to scale down on certain vote heads to provide funds to the assembly.
The move to close the county assembly has prompted a slew of reactions on Facebook, from residents of Makueni.
Some have read mischief in the move and now accuse the Speaker, Stephen Ngelu whose name made it to the infamous list of shame of 175 corrupt officers, for closing the assembly for selfish reasons.
But there are some who supported the the move
While there are also those who struck a re-conciliatory note and urged the two arms of executive to serve the common man regardless of the crisis.
Makueni MCAs were embroiled in a budget standoff with the Governor Kivutha Kibwana and the closure of the county assembly adds a new twist to the stalemate that saw the county pass its budget early this year, several months after last year’s June 3oth deadline. The assembly is however not alone, other 27 county assemblies are facing a similar cash crunch after they declined to heed to the ceilings by the CRA.
It will be interesting to see how the Makueni county assembly will wade through the murky waters of the financial crisis owing to the fact that the MCAs and the governor who would be expected to come to their rescue in this matter, do not see eye to eye.