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November 17, 2018

State paid Sh6.6m for presidential broadcast of Kisii Youth Day fete

PS Gender Safina Kwekwe react after the parliamentary accounts committee sent her away with planning PS Julius Muia (not in picture) for their inadequate preparation to answer to the audit queries for the financial years 2014/15 and 2015/16. June 12, 2018. Photo/Jack Owuor
PS Gender Safina Kwekwe react after the parliamentary accounts committee sent her away with planning PS Julius Muia (not in picture) for their inadequate preparation to answer to the audit queries for the financial years 2014/15 and 2015/16. June 12, 2018. Photo/Jack Owuor

The Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs ministry spent Sh45 million to mark the International Youth Day amid internal disquiet that the budget was grossly exaggerated.

The celebrations involved week-long activities in nine regions across the country that culminated into a major event addressed by President Uhuru Kenyatta in Kisii on August 12.

The budget was approved by Gender PS Safina Kwekwe, following the exit of her youth counterpart Lillian Omolo who was charged in the National Youth Service scandal.

A scrutiny of the budget obtained exclusively by the Star indicates the ministry paid Wanderjoy, an event management company, Sh6,593,498.

This was for the provision of an item only marked as presidential broadcast for the Kisii event.

The firm is known for provision of tents, tables and chairs, sound system and screens.

The ministry also spent Sh8.5 million for what it said was facilitation of youth participation during the one-day event in Kisii.

Of the Sh8.5 million, Sh2 million was set aside for mobilisation of local youths.

The event targetted 1,000 youths from Kisii region alone and each participant was to be paid Sh2,000 for transport and lunch.

The budget also indicates that facilitating 56 participants from Wajir, Mandera, Lamu, Turkana, West Pokot and Marsabit gobbled up Sh560,000.

The same participants from the six counties also pocketed Sh784,000 for what is marked in the budget as participants night-outs.

Some 506 participants from the rest of the constituencies across the country were paid Sh4,000 each, translating to Sh2.02 million and a further Sh2.02 million for two-day night-outs.

Read: 'Arrest' looters of public funds, Uhuru tells youth

In an earlier event that was graced by Deputy President William Ruto in Makueni, the ministry spent Sh200 for a single tree seedling, translating into Sh600,000 for the 3,000 seedlings that were to be bought.

A scrutiny of the budget indicates that the celebrations were also a windfall for ministry staff who pocketed hefty allowances during the period.

For instance, staff from ministry headquarters who travelled to Kisii pocketed about Sh1 million in allowances.

An initial site visit to Kisii by headquarter staff cost Sh278,000 while planning at the headquarter cost Sh250,000.

The planning budget involved Sh150,000 for refreshments, Sh250,000 for airtime and a similar amount as allowance.

Local planning in Kisii cost the taxpayer Sh461,700.

But Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs CS Margret Kobia told the Star the budget was reasonable.

Kobia said the celebrations were a whole week function and there was a national organising committee that was in charge of planning.

“I had a look at the budget and most of the things in the list of what was required to have been spent for the week to me was reasonable. But of course the final authorising officer and accounting officer is the PS,” she told the Star.

“I know what was spent is being made to look like it was a one-day event but I think we need to understand it was a whole week. Even for that committee to prepare, it required meetings. People needed to be facilitated to come from all parts of the country.”

The CS described the bringing together of youths from across the country as an exposure worth the investment.

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