STATEMENT DELIVERED TO THE COUNTY ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON BUDGET AND APPROPRIATIONS ON 6THJULY, 2016, BY MR. JOHN NJERU NJAGI, COUNTY EXECUTIVE SECRETARY FOR FINANCE, EMBU COUNTY, WHEN HIGHLIGHTING THE BUDGET POLICY AND REVENUE RAISING MEASURES FOR FISCAL YEAR 2016/2017 IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE LAW AND STANDING ORDERS
1. Mr. Chairman, Sir, One again , it is my singular honor to present the County’s fourth Budget Statement under the Administration of His Excellency the Governor Martin Nyaga Wambora in obedience to the provisions of the Constitution of Kenya, the Public Finance Management Act and the Standing Order No. 213 of the Standing Orders of the County Assembly of Embu. Mr Chairman, our county economy is performing quite well and the policy measures I intend to highlight this afternoon are intended to consolidate this momentum and lead to increased prosperity for all citizens in this great county. Accordingly Mr Chairman, the theme of this budget is’’ Consolidating Gains for a prosperous Embu County.
2. M.r Chairman , this optimism is not misplaced , it is indeed based on our well demonstrated resilience and strong prudent management of county economic affairs, even in the face of difficult challenges both within and without our county jurisdiction . In a short while Mr Chairman I will demonstrate the recent economic success that we have made as a county under very difficult circumstances.
3. Mr. Chairman , Before I proceed, allow me at the onset to thank you for allowing me to give the budget highlights after the close of the financial year a break from the previous year’s courtesy of various constructive engagements with all the stakeholders in order to deliver a Mwanainzi friendly budget this financial year. I wish also to take this early opportunity to express my sincere appreciationto His Excellency the Governor Hon. Martin Nyaga Wambora for his sustained confidence in me to preside over this very important portfolio of finance and planning and also to the Budget and Appropriation Committee, under your wise and very able leadership for the constructive engagements with my team and for steering the review of the 2015/16 budget estimates.
4. Mr Chairman, our county economy is growing at a sustainable pace because under the strong leadership of our Governor , we are confronting head on the challenges we face with determination and confidence. The citizens of this great county want their childen to go to quality schools and to get jobs, they want to live healthy lives, they want decent transport , affordable food and a decent shelter, and above all , they want to see progress in aspects in our economy. Mr Chairman, Achieving all these requires bold leadership all citizens of this great county working hard and playing their part to deliver a common vision for our county. In sum, we need to remain steadfast in perusing our long term development agenda and focus less on short term fixes of issues.
5. Mr Chairman, I believe whole heartedly that the great citizens of this county are up to the task. But it requires concerted effort from all of us to aim high and remain focused on what needs to be done. With democracy which has witnessed in this great and great leadership of our leaders, I can confirm that the future of our great county is indeed bright.
6. Mr. Chairman, our plan for economic transformation which started in 2013 is working and delivering results, we just need to remain steadfast. As such Mr. Chairman through this budget, we are demonstrating our resolve and commitment to addressing the concerns raised by the citizens of this great county, while also laying a foundation for accelerated growth and shared prosperity. A shared prosperity in which we all enjoy peace and every citizen has access to a gainful social and economic opportunity. Mr. Chairman to achieve all these we require-
First, to enhance business environment for job creation , we need to maintain macro-economic stability , and implement key structural reforms to reduce the cost of doing business so as to unleash the efficiency gains necessary for achieving prosperity for all.
Second, we are committing more resources towards infrastructure development and adapting innovative ways to hasten delivery of better roads and other infrastructure necessary for reducing the cost of doing business and promoting competiveness and the productivity of our economy
Thirdly, to reduce the cost of living on long term basis, we are undertaking various measures to drive agricultural and industrial transformation so as to ensure food security and lower food prices, increase quality and diversification of county exports, accelerate inclusive growth, create jobs and reduce poverty. In addition, the expansion of agro-processing will foster export growth and support other sectors such as manufacturing and agri-tourism. These measures are expected to boost economic growth and reduce unemployment.
Fourth in order to foster community mobilization as tool for empowering our people to overcome the perennial challenges of poverty, unemployment and general economic hopelessness so that our county can truly be a land of opportunities for its citizens , it will be critical to provide access to affordable credit, while at the same time encouraging entrepreneurship and prioritizing skills development. In this respect adequate support has been provided to youth trust funds where our young people are able to access credit to start off and boost their existing businesses to offload the burden from their overburdened parents. Additionally Women Trust Fund is being established where women of this great county can access credit at affordable rates in cognizance of the role women play in the social and economic development of any country.
Fifth, to protect the poor and the vulnerable and to sustain long term growth, we need to ensure the fruits of our growing economy are shared equitably. Accordingly, we undertake to prioritize investment the quality and accessibility of health care services as well as quality relevant education with a view to building a healthy and productive human resources base that we need for driving economic growth while at the same time ensuring adequate social safety nets for our vulnerable members of our society in order to reduce the financial burden on households.
7. In a nutshell Mr. Chairman, this budget aims to consolidate the significant gains already made in these priority areas that I have just mentioned and we will do this within a sustainable fiscal framework.
8. Mr. Chairman, this honorable house approved the County Fiscal Strategy Paper (CFSP). This paved the way for the preparation of Budget Estimates for FY 2016/17 that was submitted to the County Assembly on 28th April 2016. The estimates broadly reflect the priorities that I have just elaborated. In addition, I will be submitting the finance bill which contains the taxation and financial proposal that will help achieve our goals.
9. Today, Mr. Chairman, I am addressing the citizens of this great county to inform them of the County Government’s plan to strengthen our county economy further and to address the many concerns raised in print, electronic and through the social media, following the gains we have made so far, of course, we would have done much better were it not for the myriad of challenges we have encountered in setting structures and creating a firm and tested foundation for the generations to come.
10. Mr. Chairman, through the 2016/17 budget, we propose to respond to some of the concerns raised by citizens of this great County first by deepening structural reforms in order to improve efficiency and total factor productivity by providing an enabling environment in order to facilitate private sector growth for employment creation especially to our youth whom if left idle are likely to get influenced into other social evils in our society.
11. Mr. Chairman, with the repeal of PPP Act which has recognized County Government as procuring unit in the operationazation of repealed PPP Act 2016 Embu County Government has gone flat out in engaging in Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in the hope that this will spur economic growth in the county. Some of the measures outlined in the highlights pronounced herein are premised on the commitment of the County Government of Embu to progressively deliver on the constitutionally mandated economic rights of citizens by removing tariff barriers to the movement of homegrown commodities, in order to make meaningful efforts to enhance social rights, including implementing measures to ensure food availability and security, and protection of the vulnerable members of our County. I acknowledge that accelerating and sustaining inclusive and equitable growth for prosperity requires tough choices, hard work, and determination by each and every resident of this great county.
12. With this background allow me Mr. Chairman, to delve into the various measures we are introducing under each of the main strategic areas. Thereafter, I will share the fiscal outcomes for fiscal year 2015/16 and the fiscal focus for 2016/17 as well outline the revenue raising measures we are proposing to support growth and employment creation.
2.0: CREATING AN ENABLING BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT
13. Mr. Chairman, the County Government of Embu is committed to ensuring that there is in place a business environment that promotes start up and growth of enterprises. In particular, the County Government recognizes the catalytic role of small and medium size businesses, and in this regard, will ease the process of starting up businesses, enhance access to credit , facilitate capacity building, extend preferential treatment in public tenders with a focus to youth, women, physically challenged and county-based enterprises, and simplify and modernize the regulatory regime in order to amplify their multiplier effect on employment opportunities and accelerate growth of the County economy.
14. Mr Chairman, these measures together with other measures to be pronounced by the various bills to be presented to the county assembly for considerations will be expected to open up the business environment within the County for economic consolidation.
15. Mr. Chairman, we are also strengthening the legislative framework to further create predictable and enabling business environment. In this regard, the County Government has enacted various legislations which include the trade licensing, revenue administration and property rating acts to ensure among other things, that the necessary infrastructure is in place to facilitate trade activities, which will greatly enhance the county revenue base as a supplement to what the County is deriving from National Government.
16. Mr Chairman I will be introducing to this honorable house a bill to establish our very own Embu County Revenue Authority for the sole purpose of mobilizing the county resources. Additionally a fully-fledged department responsible for planning and county resources mobilization has been created headed by a chief officer to coordinate all the affairs of revenue generation and management .I urge the Hon. Members of the County Assembly to accord the executive the necessary support in the operationalization all the attendant legislations in the revenue generation and management to optimize this very critical activity in the mobilization of very own resources to bridge the gap left in the equitable share the county receives from the National Government. Mr. Chairman, with a well-coordinated approach, It is hoped that these efforts should reduce the cost of doing business and turn Embu County to a preferred investment destinations for industrialists.
17. Mr. Chairman, in an effort to make the county recover from the dark past history fraught with hunger, famine, diseases, political instability among other socio-cultural and economic challenges. The County Government is ready to work tirelessly to build a future in which Embu residents can take pride and equitably share the accruing benefits, and to make this a reality, H.E. the Governor has decreed a set of outcomes that will shape the county’s policies and programs for the future.
18. Mr. Chairman, on the fiscal front, we are focusing not only on the priority programs with the highest impact on our development objectives, but within framework of sustained macro-economic environment. Accordingly, we are strengthening revenue collections efforts, containing the growth of total expenditure and eliminating unproductive expenditures while gradually shifting composition of expenditures from recurrent to capital expenditure.
19. Mr. Chairman, to reduce wastage in our Government spending and entrench efficiency, effectiveness and accountability in public finances, we are going to rationalize our expenditure and assure value for money. To this end, e-procurement system is fully operational inbuilt with an active price reference to ensure the county does not procure any supplies above the market price in line with the National Treasury directive and the procure to pay module of the Integrated Financial Management System (I.F.M.I.S) is also fully operational .As policy direction all county government procurement will be done electronically, and the days of inflated prices are thing of the past.
20. Mr. Chairman, We are developing and enforcing cost benchmarks for all projects and consumables to assure value for money. At the same time, we are strengthening capacity of budget performance and setting a performance benchmark for absorption of development budget of at least 90 percent, Similarly, expenditure tracking and value for money audits to ensure accountability and efficiency and effectiveness in the use of public resources is mandatory .In this respect we have roll out e-promise plat form alongside an aggressive and independent monitoring and evaluations team to review implementations of all the county projects and programs.
2.1: HIGHLIGHTS OF THE FY 2016/2017 BUDGET
21. Mr. Chairman, This year’s budget is guided by county government strategic intervention aimed at transforming our county economy into sustainable level sooner rather later. It is a budget that will reinforce the foundation that we set three years ago for a strong shared growth and for a sustained reduction in employment and poverty.
22. Mr, Chairman, in brief, we propose to improve our revenue collections, including Appropriations In Aid (AIA) to Kshs. 803,772,092 from Kshs. 630,762,379 projected in the last financial year. Mr. Chairman, we plan to enhance our efforts to broaden the tax base and revenue administration by the County revenue department. Already we have automated our revenue management systems and relevant legislations to support revenue generation and enhancement have been approved by this honorable and being implemented. In addition to legislative support this honorable approved the valuation roll to govern the rating of properties within the county jurisdiction. Mr Chairman I take this opportunity to thank the members for approving the many of pieces of legislation which is expected to boost the executive efforts in the revenue generation and enhancement.
23. Mr Chairman as I had indicated earlier more revenue can be generated if the function is handled by an independent body like KRA at the National Government. Within the confines of County Government Act 2012 and the Public Financial Management Act 2012 the County Governments are better placed to establish county revenue authority to independently undertake the role of revenue collection and management. In view of the above I will be presenting to this honorable a bill to create our very own Embu County Revenue Authority I appeal to members to give that all the necessary support when bill will be tabled in this honorable house.
24. Mr. Chairman, the county government will continue to rationalize and prioritize expenditures for maximum impact with limited resources. We will also enhance efficiency and ensure value for money in FY2016/2017, Mr. Chairman, our expenditures are aimed at supporting growth while helping to crowd in the private sector to take up new opportunities. I will provide details of expenditure plans shortly; meanwhile, it is important to acknowledge the support from our development partners who have worked closely with us in supporting some of programs. I wish to salute all of them for this gracious gesture which is clear vote of confidence in our transformative economic agenda.
25. Mr. Chairman, the rest of my statement will cover the progress made in various strategic areas in our development plan and expenditure allocations, then the fiscal projections for the FY2016/17 and finally conclude with revenue raising measures.
26. Mr. Chairman, we are improving our public finance management to pre-empt rent seeking opportunities and eliminate wastage. In particular we have continued to strength departments dealing with financial management aspects of the county, and have rolled out the e-procurement module under the IFMIS , Mr Chairman the PFM regulations gazetted by the CS National Treasury seeks to standardize financial management system to ensure accountability , transparency, effective, economic and efficient collection and utilization of public resources. Mr. Chairman all accounting officers are expected to strictly adhere to these regulations. And as such a way to dismantle entrenched interests in expenditure, we deployed all Public Finance Officers (Accountants, Finance Officers, Internal Auditors and Procurement Officers) to serve in new stations for a maximum of three years.
27. M.r Chairman , to further strengthen governance we are in the process of establishing internal audit committees to be staffed with part time independent professional .The audit committees will be responsible for advising the accounting officers regarding suitability and robustness of the county entities internal control systems and procedures. Mr. Chairman, members of the Audit Committees shall be sourced competitively and encourage qualified Kenyans who meet the requirements to apply for the positions we have advertisement in the Newspapers.
28. Mr. Chairman, as highlighted during the last budget statement, the county government is committed to reducing the cost of doing business and encouraging private sector innovation, entrepreneurship and business expansion in order to have a strong and sustainable high economic growth and reduction in poverty levels .Mr. Chairman, these reforms that we are undertaking are expected to further improve our business environment and overall ranking in the ease of doing business.
29. Mr. Chairman, let me now focus on the main themes of this budget the first theme is infrastructure development, Mr. Chairman, transforming the County economy towards prosperity for all requires substantial investments in the development of an efficient, faster transport networks. These investments will, in turn reduce the logistic costs, promote competitiveness, open business opportunities for our people and facilitate faster and more inclusive growth for employment creation and poverty reduction in order propel the county’s economy towards prosperity.
30. Mr. Chairman, as I have already stated we are investing in our transport networks to ease the cost of doing business within the county. Much progress Mr. Chairman has been achieved in the implementation of road rehabilitation and construction programmes and a number of key projects in the road sector are work in progress and some are nearing completion but a lot more requires to be done. As a county government, we want to support the entrepreneur spirit as a pillar to the County’s economic growth, but for this to happen, the County Government will play a facilitative role more effectively by improving the enabling business environment for private sector to thrive and prosper. In this regard and consistent with the commitment of Jubilee Government administration there is a dire need to improve the business environment and open up the rural areas for development. .
31,Mr Chairman, In this year’s budget we have programmed to spend an additional Kshs.991,523, 001 for constructions, continued expansions, upgrading and rehabilitation of access roads and other public roads among other public works with Kshs.924,497,892 allocated for development works and Ksh. 67,025,109 for recurrent expenditure. Mr., Chairman, the available resource envelope is insufficient to close the existing infrastructure gap, in this content Mr, Chairman, the county government has recognized the critical role that can be played by the private sector in mobilizing resources for infrastructure development and using PPP arrangements to accelerate infrastructure development , create jobs and provide efficient services to citizens of this great county legal framework in line with repealed PPP Act are being worked to bring in private sector on board in an effort to tarmac at least 100 Kilometers of our county roads circuits .This initiative is meant to open up the circuits which hosts a number of tea factories numerous coffee factories and connect our major towns, markets to the rural areas.
32. Hon. Chairman, the County Government recognizes that Investment In Health Care Services is essential in developing a healthy population with higher productivity for sustained economic growth , in this regard working hand in hand with the National Government the County Government will strive to ensure quality health care to all residents in the county .We have allocated substantial of money to complete the ongoing works at our County referral hospital to fully operationalize the high dependency units, new operating theatres, MRI, CT scan, Cancer Screening operations , Interventions have also been made to equip other level three and four hospital alongside a host of a number of dispensaries operating in our county jurisdiction . To address the main concerns which have been raised in our health care delivery mechanisms and infrastructure a total of Kshs.2,087,069,231 has been allocated to health sector with recurrent expenditure taking away Kshs 1,778,323,354 and development taking a sizeable amount of Kshs. 308,745,877.
33. Mr. Chairman, we have made significant progress in reducing our dependence on rain feed Agriculture. In order to realize our goals in this area, we shall continue investing in irrigated Agriculture to build resilience in the economy and also improve our food security without a deliberate and strategic determination to address the productivity challenges in the Agricultural Sector, and reverse the decline in our exports through value addition, our third thematic goal of accelerating inclusive growth for economic transformation will not be achieved. A sustained economic transformation strategy must, at the initial stage, embrace sectors in which the majority of our people derive the live hoods.
34. Mr. Chairman, Agriculture is best positioned to open up opportunities across the county and sustain development and prosperity. This will largely depend on unlocking the potential of the sector through active participation of the private sector along the value chain. The expansion of agricultural output will also increase food supplies, reduce food prices and bring down the cost of living, create employment and promote overall County Rural Development some of our people are still food insecure and live in abject poverty, especially on semi- arid areas of our County.
35. Mr. Chairman, in the productive areas of our County the low Agricultural productivity has been attributed to the use of inappropriate technologies, inaccessible farm inputs, and weak extension support services and over reliance on rain fed agriculture. To deal with these challenges, the Executive responsible for Agriculture will implement an elaborate Agricultural revitalization program aimed at expanding, enhancing productivity and transforming Agriculture into a business venture.
Improvements in the farming methods will play a great role to enhance the county’s agricultural productivity which will lead to improved returns from our farmers, we will embrace public private partnership in the value addition in tea coffee macadamia the county leadership will support value additions initiatives in other sectors like millet, tomatoes, sorghum ,banana and honey.
36. Mr. Chairman, to ensure the full realization of food security and lower food prices Kshs.307,675,781 has been allocated to this sector with recurrent expenditure amounting Kshs. 261,259,433 and development expenditure Kshs. 46,416,348.
37. Mr. Chairman, access to clean water and affordable water is indispensable for eliminating the burden of diseases. For this reason, the county government will continue to invest in clean water supply and put in place measures harvest rain water as well as well to protect and conserve the environment thus connecting over 100,000 additional resident of this county to safe drinking water Mr. Chairman, inorder to mitigate the impact of climate change Mr. Chairman,the County Government will continue to mainstream climate change measures into projects and programmes. We shall therefore enhance our tree planting and re-afforestation , water harvesting , smart Agriculture, that reduce pollution levels, investment in green energy, construction in mini dams , water pans and rehabilitation of existing dams and water pans.
38. Mr. Chairman, the constitution of Kenya and vision 2030, and in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG6), promises universal access of safe water and sanitation for all by 2030. Mr Chairman inoder to achieve this objectives Kshs.221, 564,227 has been allocated to the portfolio of Lands, Water, Environment and Natural Resources to allow completion of projects which were ongoing from the previous years.
39. Mr. Chairman, the county government recognizes the role of small and micro enterprises (SMEs) as a source of employment. As noted in my statement last year, growth of this segment continues to be hindered by inadequate capital. In addition limited market access, poor infrastructure, inadequate knowledge and skills and sometimes unfriendly laws and regulations. Trade, Investments and Industrialization is one of the key portfolios that the County Leadership has given mandate to nature the growth of SMES. But allow me first to state that the Government alone cannot create prosperity; we have a very dynamic and engaging private sector that is ready to expand its business as long as the operating environment is improved.
40. Mr. Chairman, the County Government intends to facilitate the private sector as the key driver of growth and employment creation by identifying opportunities for Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) in order to maximize the County’s potential at trade, industrialization. Mr. Chairman towards this end, we have fully fledged County Executive portfolios for Trade, Investments and Industrialization to spear head efforts to make Embu a truly industrialized County the Executive in charge will be tabling to the County Assembly Public Private Partnership bill for consideration by the honorable members .The bill will be expected to bring other private players in the infrastructure development of our market centers. Additionally the PPP programmes could target other players in other sectors like macadamia processing, tea processing, Coffee processing, Sand harvesting, Sorghum, Honey and Millet Value Addition, Sports Development in the areas of branding and maintenance of our county Stadiums.
41. Mr Chairman, It is envisaged that the Trade, Investments and Industrialization portfolio will improve competitiveness, remove regulatory burdens and through their active engagement with these private partners and the various Stakeholders improve efficiency and increase total factor productivity in the understanding that all these are critical for sustainable growth and development for our county. In order to ensure that this dream is achieved, Kshs. 99,225,009 has been allocated to Trade and Investments and Industrialization.
42. Mr. Chairman, a key sectorial priority for this County is the need to engage the youth and the women of Embu County in gainful employment in order to deal a meaningful blow to poverty by exploiting their innovative minds and positive energies for greater productivity. Among the flagship project lined up for implementation this financial year includes completion of Embu Stadium to National standards , construction of a standard sports stadia in each of four sub counties, equipping of the talent academy that has both in-schools and out of school model . Towards this end a total of Kshs.78,292,208 has been allocated.
43. Mr. Chairman, for the County to realize the economic and social growth anticipated in the County’s Vision 2022 it is prudent that proper planning is put in place.
To deliver on these elaborate levels of planning the county has put in place a fully-fledged planning directorate staffed with seasoned planners and Economics, to deliver on the mandate of this directorate the County has allocated to Kshs. 20,000,000 for developments of a County Integrated Monitoring and Evaluation System (CIMES)
44. Mr. Chairman, Education, Health and social protection play an important role in the counties development effort. In line with the jubilee Government administration priorities in this sector we have allocated sufficient funds for early child education programs, vocation trainings programmes and constructions of ECD centers, toward this end a total of Kshs.212,354,121 has been allocated for developments and operations.
45. Mr. Chairman, turning to human and social capital, For our county to fully take off we need to recognize the need for human and social capital which will play a great role in service delivery, towards this end a fully fledge public service and administration portfolio has been established to coordinate performance management and capacity building of the county’s public service. This portfolio will support the County Public Service to uphold high Standards of Professional Ethics in the Service Delivery, ensuring efficient, effective and economic use of resources, this process will greatly contribute to responsive, prompt, effective, impartial and equitable provision of services.
46. Mr Chairman, A significant amount of money has been set aside for capacity building and performance management to make devolution a reality in tandem with the constitution by devolving most of the critical services to the ward level. The portfolio intends to connect all Sub-County Headquarters with fiber optic connectivity and putting up digital villages and hot spots, this will largely boost the economy of Embu County by opening up the Local and International Market for all stakeholders especially for farmers to sell their produce online.
47. Mr. Chairman, for this great county to achieve faster and more inclusive growth and development the Executive has committed an equivalent of 10 % of equitable share from National Government, over Kshs. 400 Millions of development funds to undertake equitable developments in all the twenty wards of the County. This allocation will address developments deficits not addressed in the flagship and other major projects to be implemented in the County.
2.3: STATEMENT ON REVENUE RAISING MEASURES
48. Mr. Chairman, the rest of my presentation will serve as a legislative proposal to the County Assembly pursuant to the provisions of Standing Order No. 213 (2) in which I set out and expound on the revenue raising measures for the County government. The measures I propose herein are intended to foster a healthy environment for doing business, restore order in the trade practices while promoting equity and fairness in the County’s tax regime. The measures outlined hereunder are in line with the functions of County Governments as contained in the 4th schedule to the Constitution.
49. Mr. Chairman, with regard to County Fiscal Management, it is not in doubt that there are crippling spillages in revenue collection in the County Revenue Management System. The Revenue Administration Act has been enacted by this honorable house, this Act is empowering the revenue collection department for it to act decisively on defaulters and other persons engaged in tax evasion. The Act is ensuring that all revenue accruing to the County Government is realized in full. This Act has provided hefty penalties to those used to the habit of forging revenue documents for selfish gain. We revolutionized our financial management system through automation our revenue collection and management systems in order to address the spillages in revenue collections. The full implementation of this electronic system will improve banking in real time thereby resulting to a huge reduction in revenue leakages, late banking and eliminate cases of fraud, the point of sale terminals (POS) will aid in generation of real time revenues report. Using this integrated financial management system and inclusion of other revenue stream like land rates covered in the newly established valuation roll, we project to raise our internal revenue substantially. To address these perennial challenges we have been facing as a county government I will be submitting to this honorable house a bill to create Embu County Revenue Authority equivalent of the national one at the county level. I appeal to the honorable members and other stakeholders to give this initiative maximum support when the issue is brought to your attention to enable us achieve the objective of optimizing the county’s internal revenues.
50. Mr. Chairman Sir, we be submitting various regulations to support various revenue legislations for the approval by this honourable house, additionally Mr. Chairman we shall continue strengething the various entities within our county government that are supposed to fight all forms of corruption in revenue collection of particular importance is the enforcement section where we made a request to recruit fresh blood who are capable of fighting this meanace of revenue pilvage. Mr. Chairman we are also constructing sand collections points in lower side of our county and undertaking road improvements in areas where sand for sale is being collected. Additionally modern miraa badas will be constructed to allow miraa dealers store their wares awaiting sale, this will enable them to pay with ease. We are engaging with the various stake holders in this business in order to come up with a suitable mode of operation which is acceptable to the both the stakeholders and the County Government.
51. Mr. Chairman, another targeted area of concern is liquor licensing, and the critical issue here is not just lost revenue, but also the proliferation of illicit brews that has seen a lot of rot among our Youth, it pains to note that in the past years the County witnessed loss of our very promising men and women through this illicit brews. The county government has enacted alcoholic drinks act with the regulatory measures so tight that will ensure among other things that alcohol is only going to be available to the right persons, in the right places at the right time as established in national legislation. However we experienced legal challenges in the implementation of the act. The act has been amended we appeal to our honorable members to support the new version of bill to enable this county stem out this illicit brews within our back yards .The passage of the bill will open up other avenues in the areas of revenue generation and save the amount allocated from equitable share in addressing effects of drug abuse , this initiative will release those funds for other development projects within the county jurisdiction.
52. Mr. Chairman, turning our focus to other developments taking place in our backyard, it is worth to remind our dear citizens that, there is a serious housing problem in most of our Urban Centers. For instance the County continues to open doors to fast growing institutions of higher learning and one of the critical challenges to these great institutions is biting accommodation shortage for both students and staff. This challenge is a call to private citizens to invest more resources in the housing sector, and I wish to extend an invitation to those with land around the major urban centers to consider committing the same to the development of Housing Infrastructure. However, that biting shortage of housing should not be a license for the mushrooming of non-planned constructions in the County, which has been a recipe for the mushrooming of slums.
53. Mr. Chairman, all upcoming housing units in towns and markets shall undergo mandatory inspections by the County Engineer to ascertain habitability in line with national standards of architecture and hygiene in liaison with National Construction Authority. Mr. Chairman, Certificates of Compliance will be issued without charge. However, in line with NCA regulations on buildings, all buildings will be required to provide building approvals and evidence of payment of rates as at the time of construction, and those found to have put up buildings without approvals will be liable to a fine three times the amount applicable. However those whose have been involved in this malpractice but have volunteered and surrendered to the county inspectorate department as well as paying the respective building approval fees before 30th August 2016 will be saved from the penalties.
54. Mr. Chairman, the Revenue Administration and Rating Act have been enacted by the County Assembly to assist in the administration of revenue Collection and Enforcement and addresses the concerns raised by business community, This will definitely create an enabling Business Environments for business to carry on their activities.
55. Mr. Chairman, regarding the property rates the county assembly has enacted the rating act which culminated in the development of valuation roll which has since been approved this honorable house. The rating act will enable the County Government collect the relevant rates from the property owners. Stemming from the former local authorities quite a significant amount of money has remained outstanding, in this respect with powers given by the Tax Waiver, I am proposing waiver of all interest accruing on property rates up to 3oth August 2016. Anybody paying before his or her outstanding property rates before this date the entire interest element will be waived, however for those who will not have paid before then will face the full consequences including forfeiting their property to the County Government.
56. Mr. Chairman, the moral foundation of this move is in the fact that the County Government inherited creditors of the former Local Authorities a problem that may not have arisen had debtors paid up in time.
57. With regard to Trade and Investment, Mr. Chairman, in line with the vision of the County Government to endear the county economy to investors, I propose to waive business permit fees to all manufacturing, processing and value addition enterprises for the first two years of operations. The County Government will also explore other ways of making the business environment more receptive to innovation in an attempt to engineer industrial take off.
58. Mr. Chairman, there has been a loud cry from businessmen with regard to the taxation regimes prescribed by the previous finance bills , there has also been legitimate expectation of traders that the devolved units should have been able to offer social amenities in towns and markets commensurate with the levies which businesses pays to the governments. I wish to reiterate the commitment of the trade, investments and industrialization sector to ensure infrastructure and social amenities necessary for the effective operation of trade activities are provided without fail. As a county government we have reviewed the previous levies and fees payable to the county government and a revised finance act 2016 has been approved by this honorable house and we believe the applicable fees and levies are fair, just and sustainable.
59. Mr. Chairman, in order to restore sanity in management of vehicle traffic including management of bus parks and parking in the towns and markets, the County Government will be holding a stakeholders forum to harmonize the existing management infrastructure with a view to improving order and public safety.
60. Mr. Chairman, allow to focus into the uncharted territory of Mineral Resources within Embu County. Our County sits on a large reservoir of Mineral Resources, ranging from Sand, Clay, Construction Stones and related products. Indeed the proliferation of Mineral Harvesters in the County, especially sand harvesters is leaving our County streams in a sorry state. Guided by the Embu County Environmental Management approved by this honorable house stringent controls in line within the regulatory framework will be put in place to ensure responsible harvesting, packaging and sale of minerals in a manner that benefits the Embu community. Ultimately, Mr. Chairman, it will be imperative that we swiftly institutionalize through a participatory process a comprehensive policy and legislative framework covering licensing, taxation and sustainable use of revenues generated from our mineral and natural resources, including our game reserves. In tandem with sustaining the viability of this venture we undertake to maintain all roads leading to all the sand collections points and sand dams.The County leadership will ensure that the provisions of Embu County Environment Management act will be followed strictly in addressing the devastating effects left behind by these mineral harvesters
61. Mr. Chairman, there is broad expectation that the County Government will address the issue of water distribution with some areas not connected to water networks. In addressing this challenge tenders worth millions of shillings were awarded for water infrastructure , in 2015/2016 financial year we intend to expand the water services to the remaining areas not covered by the existing water networks, towards this end an allocation of Kshs221,564227has been allocated in 2016/17 .In line with the enabling provisions of the Public Finance Management Act 2012, County Government Act 2012 and the ongoing amendments in the water Act 2002 in consultations with the all the stakeholders in the water sector, we urgently appeal to County Executive Secretary for Water Services, to hasten the process converting all water companies operating in our county and registered under the former regulatory framework to be agencies of the County Government to empower the County Government collect the relevant levies from these agencies as per the requirements of Water Act .
62 .Mr Chairman the levies collected will improve the county revenue basket, and in line with the requirement of the Constitution that make provision of water a human right and in consultation with key stakeholders will continue to make more budgetary provisions in the coming years in order to make Kenya vision 2030 a reality where our population can access clean, safe and sustainable water services.
63. Mr. Chairman, three years ago, we set ourselves a goal of implementing an economic transformation agenda, one that was to strengthen our County economy, deliver prosperity to the citizens of this great county, Mr. Chairman, this dream is truly coming to fruition despite the rough path we have travelled. Mr. Chairman we take cognizance that our people need immediate results and more so the citizens of this great county are crying for services not contests. Mr. Chairman once again we have to face up the challenges of making growth inclusive and equitable, we have to continue investing our people and making resources available for the sole purpose of improving the welfare of citizens of this county, history is there to judge us, let’s give our very best for the little time the Lord God has given us.
64. As I conclude, Mr. Chairman, allow me to express my gratitude to my fellow CECs and their Chief Officers for their support and contributions throughout this budget.
I am grateful to:-
- His Excelency , the Governor and Her Excellency the Deputy Governor for their unwavering leadership, guidance and support during the budge process and in particular during the budget retreat in Nairobi which involved all CECs and Chief Officers .
ii) Hon Speaker of the County Assembly and the Clerk for overseeing the approvals of submissions on the budget estimates for the Fiscal year 2016/17.
iii) Budget and Appropriations Committee Members, Members of the various Sectoral Committees for the comprehensive and constructive engagement in reviewing the budget estimates for the Fiscal year 2016/17.
iv) Management and Staff of the County Treasury under the able leadership of Chief officers Damiano Muthee and Josphat Ndwigah who worked tirelessly for long hours including most weekends to ensure that this budget and supporting documents meet legal deadlines
v) County Assembly staff especially the Clerks to Budget and Appropriation Committee for providing support on the Budget process.
vi) Our Bilateral and Multilateral Development Partners for their contributions to our development agendas through their technical and financial support.
65. Mr. Chairman, I must also express my gratitude to all the residents of Embu County from all walks of life for their contributions and messages of goodwill and encouragement.
I THANK YOU ALL
GOD BLESS YOU, GOD BLESS EMBU COUNTY
Mr. Chairman, I beg to move.