Questions have emerged over the planned expenditure of Sh196.3 million on the five-day devolution conference later this month.
Sources close to the conference preparations told the Star in confidence that the steering committee had received complaints about the budget size, and queries over the award of lucrative contracts.
The event that draws droves from counties is expected to run from April 23-27 in Kakamega. It will be opened by President Uhuru Kenyatta while NASA leader Raila Odinga is scheduled to deliver the keynote address on the second day.
Yesterday Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya said the conference will focus of the Big Four agenda and how county governments can realign their priorities accordingly.
According to the budget, this year's event will cost Sh22.2 million more than last year.
Some of the items budgeted include the “chairman's dinner” on the first night which will cost Sh20 million, a slight increase of Sh41,600 from the 2017 edition.
The opening night dinner will cater for 4,000 people, which means each plate will cost Sh5,000.
The main conference package (stationery, notebooks, projectors and other such equipment) will cost Sh75.6 million, up from Sh73.4 million last year.
The county chiefs also plan to spend Sh29.4 million on tents and other accessories, up from Sh24.8 million in 2017.
However, the budget and award of tenders to suppliers is causing friction and is expected to be the subject of the event's steering committee's meeting this Friday, a source at the Council of Governors said.
Claims have emerged that companies from Nairobi and other parts of the country are being favoured over the locals, contrary to the "devolution" spirit of the conference.
“We are raising those issues in a meeting we have this Friday and we have heard those complaints, said a well member of the organissing committee. "Procurement is done by the secretariat of the Council of Governors. When we meet we will have to ask these questions. Who are these beneficiaries? Where are they from?” the source said in a phone interview.
The joint organising committee of the conference is made up of representatives of the Senate and the Council of Governors. It is led by Senator Irungu Kangata and Kirinyaga Governor Ann Waiguru.
Sources told the Star under confidentiality that county chiefs had positioned their proxies as supplier of pricey items on the budget, including conferencing and tentage.
But an official of the host county, Kakamega, said all the matters would be addressed.
“As far we are concerned, no tender has been awarded. We are waiting for the procurement report on Friday when the event organizers will table it at the steering committee," said Sam Wetungu, the Kakamega county liaison and partnership director.
"We might have heard that people in Nairobi have won the contracts but we can’t comment on what we don’t know,” he said.
Wetungu said the Kakamega county leadership believes that due process will be followed and that locals will not be left out.
“The objective of devolution and the role of the counties is to bring services to the people. We believe the right process will be followed and the people at grassroots be fully involved,” Wetungu said.
CoG chief executive Jacqueline Omogeni and Council chairman Josphat Nanok were futile as they did not respond to requests by the Star for an interview.
Omogeni was out of office Wednesday.