The Meru County Assembly has made major changes to the 2015-2016 budget estimates.

If passed, the budget will see a Ward Development Fund established.

In a sitting that ended at 8.30pm Tuesday, MCAs approved the allocation of more than Sh1.5 billion to the Ward Development Fund whose law is set to be enacted.

They set aside Sh250 million for car loans and mortgage fund for the Assembly staff as well as Sh40.5 million for county and ward forums.

The Ward Development Fund Bill is set to be discussed in the Assembly in the next few days. Each ward is expected to get Sh35 million.

The county and ward forums are meant to enhance civic education and public participation.

County Assembly Finance, Budget and Appropriation Committee Chairman Joshua Mithiaru said they had resolved to stop purchase of vehicles, computers and furniture unless it is critically necessary.
In the changes, local and international travel expenses, transport allowances and other recurrent expenditures were significantly reduced.

The health department that has the largest allocation of Sh1.7 billion was the least affected by the changes losing Sh10 million allotted for development.

“We noted that continued purchase of vehicles laid tremendous overhead expenses which is against the principles of devolution.

“There was concern over increased appetite for spending by the executive departments hence the need to cut such allocations,” Mr Mithiaru said.

The budget committee reduced the employees’ compensation vote in most departments saying they would only allow a growth of not more than six percent of basic salaries.

“The departments failed to provide the committee with statistical data on the number of employees as well as the analysis of the money required," he said.

Mr Mithiaru said the committee had discovered massive duplication of departmental payrolls as well as inconsistency in the payment mode.

“Some revenue staff who should be under the finance department were found to be paid by the education department. Some payrolls are processed through IFMIS while others are done manually. One department indicated to have 212 staff in its payroll yet a headcount established only 123 staff," he said.