Meru County Assembly Speaker Joseph Kaberia has said he is ready to refund Sh470,000 he got from the county government that he used to pay rent for a house he owns.
He dismissed reports by the Auditor General that he was improperly paid and said he was allowed to stay in his house after valuation was done.
He said the matter was before the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, the Clerk of the Assembly and the County Assembly Board.
In the audit report of 2014-2015, the Auditor General stated that the house is valued at Sh115,000 monthly rent.
“The County Assembly paid Sh470,000 to the speaker who is actually the landlord (conflict of interest) as per the contractual agreement at Sh80,000 per month for November, December 2014 and January 2015 and Sh115,000 for February and March 2015,” states the report.
It further indicates that the payments were not validated with any invoices or documents which the Speaker says had been misplaced when the audit was being conducted.
These invoices were later retrieved and submitted but were not incorporated into the auditors report because it had been compiled.
“I don’t deny I am staying in my own house and there is no way I can leave my house to another place. After all I am not the only one staying in my own house and working for the government," Kaberia said.
He also held that there is no conflict of interest because it is the SRC which authorised for his stay in his own house.
“Even if I am called by the Senate Public Accounts Committee to defend the payments I am ready. Even if I am told to refund the money I am ready to do so if the senate feels it was wrong that I was paid. I don’t want to argue with the auditor general”, he said.
The auditor general’s report further queries the spending of Sh. 1.04million to lease a house for the Meru Deputy Governor Raphael Muriungi yet the SRC had issued a circular restricting use of public funds to lease an official residence for the deputy governors.
“The salaries and remuneration commission issued a circular ref no. SRC/CS/CGOVT/3/61 stating that deputy governors do not qualify for an official residential house. In the circumstances the Sh1,040,000 payment to the deputy governor’s residence is irregular expenditure and not a proper charge to the public funds”, read the auditor general’s report.