SPENDING SPREE

MCAs blow Sh1 billion on allowances in 180 days

President Kenyatta's austerity directive ignored

In Summary

• Kakamega led by spending Sh66.8 million, followed by Nairobi which paid out Sh61 million and Nakuru  Sh55,677,358.

• Baringo spent the least amount (Sh1.5 million) on allowances for 46 MCAs.

Some Kakamega MCAs
PAMPERED: Some Kakamega MCAs
Image: CALISTUS LUCHETU

County assemblies splurged Sh1 billion in committee sitting allowances in six months, a report by the Controller of Budget reveals.

The amount spent between July-December 2018 was nearly Sh600 million more compared with the Sh422 million that was paid to MCAs in the same period last year.

Agnes Odhiambo states this in her report which exposes an unusual appetite by county legislators to spend devolution cash on recurrent needs than on growth of the regions.

At least Sh2.78 billion was set aside for allowances, a revelation which is likely to trigger a conversation on whether state officers keen to implement austerity measures as ordered by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

“This expenditure translated to 38.9 per cent of the approved budget and an increase by 156.5 per cent compared to a similar period of financial year 2017/18,” Odhiambo said.

MCAs are expected to hold a maximum of eight committee sittings a month from which they earn an average Sh14,000 for each. 

According to the COB report, Baringo spent the least amount (Sh1.5 million) on allowances for the 46 MCAs against a budget of Sh30 million.

Kakamega led by spending Sh66.8 million, followed by Nairobi which paid out Sh61 million and Nakuru  Sh55,677,358.

Kisii spent Sh47,411,100 while Kiambu paid out Sh46 million, Meru (Sh43 million), Bungoma (Sh35.8 million), Busia (Sh35 million), Garissa (Sh32.8 million), Migori (Sh32 million), Kilifi (Sh31 million) and Vihiga (Sh27.2 million).

The rest, save for Tharaka Nithi, Taita Taveta, Lamu, Laikipia, Kajiado, and Embu spent over Sh10 million on allowances.

The County Budget Implementation Review shows Kakamega county assembly recorded higher expenditure on committee sitting allowance.

“The county spent an average of Sh126,700, which is more than the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) recommended monthly ceiling of Sh124,800,” the report reads.

Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya said counties are not to blame for the monies spent on committee allowances since the same is determined by SRC.

“They are the ones who determine the rates repayable. Obviously, if the amount is determined and budgeted for, MCAs are bound to use it. It is them who can increase or reduce the amount.”

Oparanya said the county lawmakers prefer to conduct sittings in cities – Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kisumu - where they are paid Sh14,000 per diem.

“We have been fighting so that the per diems are standardised for the sake of devolution. The disparities are causing us problems,” the Kakamega county boss said.

Also flagged in Odhiambo's report is an alarming increase in expenditure incurred on foreign and domestic travel at Sh6.51 billion.

“This expenditure comprised of Sh5.68 billion on domestic travel and Sh826.42 million on foreign travel and was an increase of 89 per cent compared to Sh3.77 billion incurred in a similar period last year,” the budget controller added.

The revelations come as the salaries team raised the red flag on 149 illegal allowances paid to civil servants by various state agencies.

The SRC does no understand why the officers seek such perks yet their work is catered for in their salaries.

In its recent report, the commission cited laundry, electricity, driving, emergency call among other allowances that should be reviewed.

On September 27, Devolution PS Charles Sunkuli issued a memo which limited the number of international trips by county officials.

However, county governments still burned Sh5.68 billion to fund domestic travel, money which can fund key projects in the face of the current budget shortfalls.

Kisii county incurred the highest expenditure on domestic and foreign travel at Sh323.73 million, followed by Turkana and Migori at Sh253.90 million and Sh250.94 million respectively.

Garissa burned Sh226.86 million on travel comprising of Sh60.54 million spent by the county assembly and Sh166.32 million spent by the Executive.

Machakos spent Sh213 million on domestic travel whereas Kisumu gobbled up Sh169.45 million of which Sh114 million was by the Executive.

In Meru, trips by county assembly comprised of Sh160 million of the Sh197.59 million spent on trips by officials between July and December last year.