A shocking report indicates that some members of the county assembly could be pocketing a staggering Sh500,000 a month, almost the same amount as their counterparts in Parliament.
According to the report by the Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo, MCAs in Uashin Gishu County for instance, have been taking home an average of Sh313,339 as monthly sitting allowance, exceeding the Salaries and Renumeration Commission's maximum limit of Sh124,000. The latest review report indicates that at least 12 counties exceeded the SRC's maximum monthly allowance limit.
Among other counties exceeding SRC's limit include Kakamega, Kirinyaga, Kisii, Migori, Nyandarua, Nyeri, Siaya, Taita Taveta, Trans Nzoia, Turkana and Wajir. Some of these counties were ranked as among the poorest in the country.
According to last year's economic survey Kakamega, Mandera, Turkana, Nairobi and Bungoma were listed as the five top contributors to national poverty. This does not seem to stop its governors and MCAs from paying themselves hefty allowances.
In Migori, the MCAs have been pocketing an average of Sh 185,792 in allowances per month while their Tranz-Nzoia counterparts take home at least Sh178,168.
Other counties with exorbitant sitting allowances are: Homa Bay (Sh 165,120), Bungoma (Sh154,700), Nyeri (Sh146,389), Siaya (Sh142,995) and Kisii (Sh148,699).
Surprisingly, in Isiolo MCA's were not paid any sitting allowance while in Vihiga, the county lawmakers pocketed a meagre Sh12,225.
The report has now lifted the lid on how leaders are looting public funds within the devolved units through the illegal allowances.
In her report, Odhiambo has recommended an audit to unearth what appears as grand misuse of taxpayers money.
“The Office of the Controller of budget recommends that an audit of this expense item should be conducted to ascertain validity of the expenditure,” she stated in the latest 2014/2015 half year County Budget Implementation Review Report.
This means that MCAs in Uasin Gishu could be taking home about Sh500,000-an amount that is almost twice the salary of a principal magistrate.
A Principal Magistrate earn about Sh272,596.
In 2013, SRC increased MCAs salaries from Sh79,200 per month to Sh123,750. This is expected to rise to Sh165,000 in five years.
They are also entitled to a Sh3 million mortgage, Sh2 million car loan as well as mileage allowance.
In Kakamega, the 87 MCAs pocket an average of Sh134,700 and in Kirinyaga, the 30 MCAs take home at least Sh141,894.
Analysis of the sitting allowances indicate that Turkana spent Sh 41.39 million which exceeded the annual budget allocation of Sh10 million.
“This implies that funds meant for other activities were diverted to pay MCA sitting allowances,” Odhiambo concludes in her report.
However, Nandi County did not budget for MCAs’ sitting allowances, but ended up gobbling Sh 9.5 million.
In total, MCAs throughout the country have blown away Shs1.44 billion in sitting allowances during this financial year.
The last parliament did not set any education bracket for MCA sleading to some counties to elect people with very low education background.
Fredrick Kipkemboi, an MCA from Nandi County sat his KCPE exams last year and scored 250 marks out of a possible 500.
The report indicates that Counties have also spent Sh3.72 billion on both domestic and foreign travel against an annual budgetary allocation of Kshs8.52 billion.
Turkana County had the highest expenditure on domestic and foreign travel at Shs241.87 million followed by Tana River County at Shs.183.94 million and Nairobi County at Sh173.67 million.
Conversely, Lamu County, Elgeyo/Marakwet County and Mombasa County had the least expenditure on this category at Kshs.19.76 million, Kshs.18.20 million and Kshs.9.06 million respectively.
The economic survey further shows that Wajir and Mandera in Northern Kenya have high poverty incidences of above 80 per cent while those with low poverty rates of below 30 per cent are Kiambu, Kirinyaga and Nyeri counties.
Last year, eight countries banned Kenya's MCAs from visiting them.
The countries complained they have received too many and too large delegations from Kenya, some of which "are not of any value to our bilateral relationship."
The United States, Rwanda, Israel, South Africa, Malaysia, Singapore, the Netherlands and Brazil have all complained about the MCA delegations.