12% OF BUDGET

Samboja quizzed over Sh224m paid to MCAs

Senators ask if money was used to entice them to pass supplementary budget

In Summary

• Senate County PAC says money was illegally paid, 12% instead of 7%, should be recovered to fund other projects.

• County asks senators to help them compel KWS to share revenue generated from the two Tsavo National parks, 'liberate us from bondage'.

Taita Taveta Governor Granton Samboja.
Taita Taveta Governor Granton Samboja.
Image: FILE

Senators yesterday ordered Taita Taveta Governor Granton Samboja to recover Sh224 million his administration illegally gave MCAs for salaries and allowances last year.

The Senate County Public Accounts and Investments Committee said the money was disbursed contrary to the law and should be recovered to fund other projects.

Auditor General Edward Ouko said Samboja’s government allocated the MCAs Sh534.86 million, or 12 per cent, of the county’s annual budget.

This allocation violates the Public Finance Management Act requiring county assemblies to be allocated only seven per cent of the total annual budget.

“Was this an enticement to the MCAs to pass your supplementary budget or were the MCAs blackmailing you to give in to their demands?” committee chairman Moses Kajwang asked.

Samboja appeared before the panel yesterday to answer to 2017-18 audit queries.

He denied the money was used to entice the ward representatives to pass certain legislation and asked his finance executive Vincent Masawi and chief officer Leonard Langat to respond.

Was this an enticement to MCAs to pass your supplementary budget or were  MCAs blackmailing you to give in to their demands?
Committee chairman Moses Kajwang 

Masawi said the county advanced the excess amount to the MCAs after their speaker pleaded for extra cash saying they had run out of recurrent expenditure funding.

“I sought advice from the Commission on Revenue Allocation who gave me the go-ahead, provided such money was not from the development kitty,” Masawi said.

But the committee rejected the argument, saying not even Parliament or the Budget Controller are allowed to give advice that is contrary to the law.

“We want this money recovered and put to good use. This is a lot of money that can build a road or a market for the people of Taita Taveta,” Kajwang said.

The governor was also hard-pressed to explain the Sh5.35 billion variance between figures captured in the IFMIS and the financial statements during the year.

He explained that problems associated with the IFMIS system were responsible for the big variance. But the committee asked why the problem was only in Taita Taveta, but not other counties that were cleared by the auditor.

Meanwhile, the Taita Taveta county government is planning to petition the Senate to compel the Kenya Wildlife Service to share revenue collected from the twin Tsavo national parks.

Samboja said despite the parks being domiciled in the county, the residents are not benefiting from it because of KWS’ reluctance to share revenue with the county.

he asked the Senato to "liberate our people from KWS bondage. It's sad seeing over 62 per cent of our county is in the park, yet we get nothing," he said.

“We have written several letters to KWS to see how we can share the revenue but they are not replying,” he told the committee.

He said the county was collecting signatures to petition the Senate to help compel KWS to share the revenue they generate from resources domiciled in the county. 

Samboja asked senators to develop legislation providing for revenue sharing from the Tsavo East and West national parks.

Senator Johnes Mwaruma said the petition has a backing of most residents.

“We are fully behind the governor and his team, this is urgent," Mwaruma said.

(Edited by R.Wamochie)