Nyanza Counties Struggle with Wage Bills and Development

Several counties in Nyanza, including Kisumu, Siaya, and Migori, are expected to face ongoing challenges with large wage bills in the upcoming 2023/2024 financial year. While these counties aim to undertake ambitious multi-billion projects to improve the conditions of their devolved units, a significant portion of their budgets will still be allocated to salaries, completion of stalled projects, and initiation of new ones.

Kisumu County, led by Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o, has proposed a substantial budget of Sh10.4 billion to focus on completing projects initiated during his first term. However, the wage bill alone will consume nearly half of the budget, with Sh4.9 billion allocated for salaries. Development projects will receive Sh3.1 billion, while operations and maintenance will receive Sh2.3 billion. Despite previous efforts to reduce expenditure on personal emoluments, the budget proposal suggests that the county still faces a long battle in this regard.

One controversial aspect of the budget is an allocation of Sh750,000 for the purchase of coffins under the city department. County Assembly’s budget committee members have expressed discomfort with this allocation, although an official clarified that the coffins are meant for staff welfare in the event of loss. Additionally, the county plans to allocate Sh1.3 billion to settle pending bills, an issue that has plagued Kisumu County since Governor Nyong’o assumed office in 2017. Finance CEC George Okong’o stated that the budget’s focus is on clearing these bills.

Kisumu County has prioritized several flagship projects for the upcoming fiscal year, including the construction of the county headquarters and assembly, as well as the completion of controversial infrastructure projects like the Moi Stadium. The health department is set to receive the largest share of the development budget, with Sh3.5 billion allocated for the rehabilitation of health facilities.

To supplement the budget, the county expects to collect approximately Sh1 billion from local revenue sources in addition to the funds received from the national government.

In Siaya County, Governor James Orengo’s administration plans to spend Sh12.2 billion on projects in the 2023/2024 period. The health sector receives the largest share of the budget at Sh2.5 billion. The budget also includes provisions for procuring fridges for health centers and dispensaries, medical equipment, and ambulances. Addressing food insecurity is another priority, with a budget allocation of Sh650 million, including funds for extension services.

To finance the budget, Siaya County aims to collect Sh1 billion from local revenue sources in addition to national government funding. The budget also includes allocations for subsidy and grants programs, fish landing infrastructure, agricultural laboratory equipment, and the completion of the Bondo slaughterhouse.

Both Kisumu and Siaya counties have placed significant emphasis on the health sector in their development budgets, indicating their commitment to improving healthcare facilities. However, the challenge of managing wage bills remains a pressing concern that these counties will need to address effectively.


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