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Friday, August 18, 2017

Governors's council illegally gobbles Sh1 billion county allocations

Governors Zachary Obado (Migori), Justus Malombe (Kitui), David Nkedienye (Kajiado), Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), John Muruti (Taita Taveta), Kinuthia Mbugua (Nakuru) and Josphaat Nanok (Turkana) pause for a photo at UN Gigiri during a stakeholders consultative meeting. Photo/File
Governors Zachary Obado (Migori), Justus Malombe (Kitui), David Nkedienye (Kajiado), Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), John Muruti (Taita Taveta), Kinuthia Mbugua (Nakuru) and Josphaat Nanok (Turkana) pause for a photo at UN Gigiri during a stakeholders consultative meeting. Photo/File

Governors have illegally splashed more than Sh1 billion to fund the Council of Governors in Nairobi money that should be funding development.

Documents seen by the Star show Sh333 million has been contributed annually to the council for three years.

The money spent on the Nairobi headquarters at Delta House and governors’ own liaison offices, some quite posh, is not approved by county assemblies, as required by law.

CoG chairman Peter Peter Munya last night defended the spending, telling the Star the council is accountable and audited by the Auditor General.

“We are a legitimate establishment that must run its operations and you can’t expect to do that without money,” the Meru governor said.

Munya said, “The national government gave us meager funding last year and this year they haven’t given any. The Treasury has written, saying they won’t give us any money this year. I don’t know why some people think other institutions and not CoG should be funded when we are a statutory body established by law.”

He says county funding is insufficient and the CoG must seek donations from USAid, UNDP, UN Women, Adahi Trust and other organisations.

Expert comment: County cash must go to service delivery

The CoG interfaces between the 47 counties and national government. Munya did not address specific allegations of lack of spending approval by MCAs and violations of the Intergovernmental Relations Act.

The law requires governors’ proposed budgets be approved by MCAs before executives may spend public funds. Governors do not disclose to their MCAs the monies remitted to the CoG, raising concerns county chiefs could be stashing away undisclosed millions under vague budget lines.

The Intergovernmental Relations Act of 2012, which established the CoG, requires the body be financed directly from the exchequer not directly by counties as happens now.

The Act establishes the CoG, the Intergovernmental Relations Technical Committee and the Summit.

The technical committee coordinates activities of the council and the Summit, the highest body.

The President and DP are members of the summit The Treasury so far has disbursed Sh200 million to the CoG, which also receives donations.

According to documents seen by the Star, counties have spent Sh280 million on legal fees over the three years, much of it paying lawyers litigating against the national government and Senate.

CoG offices at Delta House consumed Sh411 million in rent in the 2013-14 financial year, Sh134 million in 2014-15 and has spent Sh84 million in this financial year.

The office is described as bare. In his latest report, the AG says county contributions to the CoG are illegal, however, governors continue to spend.

“The CoG created under the Intergovernmental Relations Act 2012 Section 19 should be financed through the annual estimates of the Revenue and Expenditure of the National Government as per Section 37 of the Act,” AG Edward Ouko says.

Documents show the highest CoG contributors over three years are Turkana (Sh58 million), Kitui (Sh48 million), Meru (Sh44 million), Kakamega (Sh41 million) and Tana River (Sh39 million).

Counties such as Turkana and Tana River are hardship areas hit by drought and hunger In three years, Wajir has coughed up Sh30 million, Nyeri Sh30 million, Laikipia (Sh4 million), Narok (Sh5 million) and Elgeyo Marakwet (Sh6 million).

Alfred Mutua’s Machakos county gave the least, just Sh340,000 to the CoG contributory fund audited by the AG.

Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok defends the spending as legal and benefi cial to residents.

“These were monies appropriated in line with the budget under the intergovernmental relations vote line,” he told the Star.

His own county had only remitted Sh52 million for the three years, he said.

Lack of coordination in contributions has parked fears some governors could be misusing public funds intended for development projects.

This is because no law compels devolved units to donate public funds to run the umbrella body, otherwise funded by the exchequer.

Contributions to the CoG could shoot up to Sh1.3 billion once counties make their payments this financial year, which began on July 1.

There are suggestions some governors are fronting proxy companies to milk the council through tenders. There are allegations of administrative loopholes likely to lead to pilferage.

And while taxpayers are spending millions to fund Delta House, the Star has established a good a number of governors are running parallel upmarket city offices, some of them

private, from where they run their operations.

Liaison offices are intended to link counties and national government. Some serve as private business centres for governors and associates. One flamboyant Nyanza governor has never set foot in Delta House virtually a shell without furnishings and fittings to speak of despite taxpayers paying millions in rent.

The Star has established this boss operates from a spacious, expensive office at KICC. Revelations governors have been financing their council using funds allocated to counties

have created an uproar as devolved units face accusations of pilferage and embezzlement.

Governors continue to demand increased allocations and accuse the Jubilee coalition of plotting the downfall of devolution by starving counties of resources.

National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale said the only legal provision for payment to CoG by the Treasury is the Intergovernmental Relations Act.

He said the Treasury had so far paid Sh112 million to the CoG. 

“This money is written nowhere. County assemblies have not approved it. We must interrogate how the Controller of Budget approved this,” Duale said.

 

 

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