Governors are mulling over plans to partner with private investors and donors to bridge the gap occasioned by delay in the release of funds from the Treasury.
The county bosses, who have in the past been accused of delaying projects, have blamed their predicament on poor funding, budget shortfalls and a bloated workforce that consumes the largest chunk of the funds.
And with just over 100 days after election, a number of counties are still grappling with debt as well as unreconciled assets and liabilities, which the governors have said could delay the delivery of services.
But in a statement Wednesday, the Council of Governors vice chairperson Anne Waiguru said the county chiefs plan to leverage on the partnerships to improve their economies.
“As the country’s economy recovers from a protracted electioneering period, county chiefs must seek innovative ways of delivering on their election promises,” said Ms Waiguru.
“The private sector is one such avenue, which has a great and effective role in strengthening government institutions in Kenya and counties must now leverage this if they intend to keep their election promises.”
The idea, according to Ms Waiguru, the Kirinyaga governor, is to also find ways of maximising on the opportunities found in the counties, but which cannot be realised through funding from the national government.
The partnerships, she said, will be done realistically and within the law and subjected to public participation to address challenges witnessed in some of the counties where projects supported by private investors and donors failed to take off.
But, while the idea is not new as some of the counties had embraced it in the first term of devolution, some of the projects were marred by controversies.
For instance, in Homa Bay, a proposed Sh56 billion agri-city failed to take off in 2013 after the investor pulled out.
And the National Treasury, in an effort to shield the counties against incurring heavy debts in case such projects failed, has proposed the 2016 Public-Private Partnerships (Amendment) Bill, which mandates a county government to implement a project under such an agreement if it provides value for money.
The proposed law will also require projects under such partnerships to get the approval from the Treasury.
The partnerships have been touted as a promising route to fund new infrastructure across Africa.
In the 2016/17 financial year, counties received about Sh307 billion from the Treasury, an amount they said was not sufficient for development.
“In Kirinyaga, for instance, we are in talks with several private investors and development partners to partner within a plan which includes building a world-class diagnostic centre, building a referral hospital, upgrading roads and developing a resort ecosystem around the recently launched Thiba dam,” said Ms Waiguru.