The 2014/2015 financial year is almost coming to an end with only two months left to the closure of business of the financial year. The budget making which is a very vital process has kicked off in earnest with most counties having conducted public hearings of the 2015/2016 financial year as outlined in the constitution.
Makueni County is no exception and despite the wrangling between the Governor, Kivutha Kibwana and Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) over budgetary allocations for the last two years in row, residents are looking ahead for a brighter new financial year devoid of infighting.
Makueni County is semi-arid, characterized by unpredictable weather patterns leading to perennial droughts and subsequent famines and acute water shortages. The county also faces a myriad of other challenges ranging from high levels of poverty at a staggering 68 percent to poor infrastructure among others.
Although the new dispensation of devolved units brought a flicker of hope to residents of Makueni bedeviled by lack of basic facilities like water and food, the residents are yet to reap the benefits of devolution thanks to the endless bickering between the two arms of the government.
Despite the county receiving allocations of Sh5.7B and Sh6.2B in the last two financial years, there is little if any to celebrate about as the resources have remained underutilized for long periods due to delays of approval of the county budget.
In the 2013/2014 financial year operations were interrupted for more than four months after the governor and the MCAs failed to agree on some budgetary allocations while the current budget was approved early February this year only a few months to the 2015/2016 financial year due to the same wrangling.
Now that a new financial year is beckoning, residents are optimistic that the money allocated for the county shall be put to use despite the county being on the verge of dissolution.
A commission appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta to look into a petition filed by more than 50,000 residents to dissolve the county over the infighting begins its work on Thursday 23.
Even before the budget process is finalized residents have already taken to social media to highlight key priority areas that the county government needs to allocate more resources.
Water and infrastructure tops the list while education and agriculture also features prominently in the Facebook debate.
Some residents even suggested ways in which the water problem in the county can be addressed.
Several others suggested that education and youth empowerment should also be given considerable amount of money and asked the county government to establish technical colleges and institutions of higher learning besides awarding bursaries to deserving students to enable them acquire professional and vocational skills .
Agriculture was also mentioned as a key area that needed more resources.
Some also underscored the need for harmony and peace in the county noting that no meaningful development can be achieved in a hostile environment. They argued that the county government should also work closely with the national government and other agencies besides bench-marking with other countries.
As the county government prepares to table its 2015/2016 budget before the 30th June deadline, Makueni residents can only hope that their views will be put into considerations and that the areas highlighted as key will be given the first priority.