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Too late, car grants processed, MCAs tell CoB

Assemblies Forum chairman says 90 per cent of counties implemented SRC directive on grants. Public infuriated.

In Summary

• Ndegwa says the opinion of the Controller of Budget can only be sought in cases where the car loans were extended to other county staff. 

• But Salaries and Remuneration Commission said it will soon review the letter from CoB seeking to know how to authorise car grants for MCAs. They were to get loans from revolving fund.

The County Assemblies Forum led by chairman Ndegwa Wahome, vice chair Florence Mwangangi and secretary general Kipkirui Chepkwony during a press conference in Nairobi on July 8, 2020.
CAR GRANTS: The County Assemblies Forum led by chairman Ndegwa Wahome, vice chair Florence Mwangangi and secretary general Kipkirui Chepkwony during a press conference in Nairobi on July 8, 2020.
Image: DOUGLAS OKIDDY

MCAs have said they have already converted the contentious Sh2 million car loans into grants.

Therefore, they say it is pointless for the Controller of Budget to call for an advisory from the Salaries and Remuneration because the grant is a done deal.

Many members of the public and some leaders were outraged, calling the grant a bribe to vote for BBI and saying MCAs and MPs are too numerous and grossly overpaid and compensated.

MCAs were supposed to get car loans from a revolving fund.

Speaking to the Star on Monday, County Assemblies Forum chairman Wahome Ndegwa said 90 per cent of the 47 assemblies have already implemented the directive by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission. 

In a letter dated February 17, the CoB sought an advisory on how to convert a car loan facility into a grant. It further asked how to handle requests to authorise withdrawals from county revenue funds to finance the grant.

It said most counties merged the car loan and mortgage facility into one fund.

“Some counties are operating one mortgage and one car loan fund for the staff and members of the county assembly. It should be noted that in some counties, the fund is not fully funded,” the letter reads.

But Ndegwa, who is the Nyandarua assembly speaker, said the MCAs were already servicing the loan and it was only a matter of converting it into a grant.

"Remember we had already issued loans to our members. We already created the fund and we are merely converting that fund from a loan to a grant. We paid our members what they had to repay in terms of loans and stopped deducting any further monies on car loans," he said.

"It was as simple as that and we were able to implement the circular 90 per cent. I can assure, as assemblies, that we have seamlessly implemented that."

Ndegwa said the opinion of the Controller of Budget can only be sought in cases where the car loans were extended to other staff of the counties.

"What the Controller of Budget is saying at this time will not affect the implementation of the circular except in those assemblies where their fund was used for other issues.

"I know of some assemblies whose fund was also used to extend loans to other staff and, therefore, the money to settle the members was not available. So it might require some supplementary budget and this is now where the Controller of Budget will come in," Ndegwa said.

On February 9, the SRC issued a circular to the Council of Governors approving the car grants for MCAs and speakers. It agreed to the conversion of their car loan facility to a grant, which it said would come at no extra expense from the Sh4.5 billion allocated.

The benefit is only applicable to current speakers and MCAs. But the Salaries and Remuneration Commission said it will soon review the letter from the Controller of Budget seeking on implementation.

On Monday, SRC head of corporate communication Anthony Mwangi said the full commission will deliberate on the issues raised by the CoB and issue guidance on the way forward.

"The commission will look into the issues raised in the letter and once the SRC is done, we will respond to it appropriately," he told the Star by phone.