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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 1 March 2015

HOW MPS SPENT SH1.3B IN SIX MONTHS



MPs blew a staggering Sh1.36 billion on local and foreign travel alone over the past six months, and their county assembly counterparts pocketed millions in illegal sitting allowances.
According to a new report by Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo, lawmakers pocketed Sh1.047 billion on domestic travel and an additional Sh331 million on foreign travel.
Much of the Sh1.047 billion local travel budget is made up of the MPs’ mileage claims for trips made to their constituencies – an allowance that has often featured fictitious mileage claims over the decades.
The Parliamentary Service Commission does not make public the details of lawmakers' mileage claims, including how much each MP was paid during a specified reporting period.
There have been claims that some MPs claim up to Sh1.5 million monthly, without any proof to show that they indeed traveled to their constituencies.
In December, the Salaries and Remuneration Commission slashed MPs’ foreign travel allowances, insisting that the lawmakers were pocketing hefty allowances compared to other countries and international institutions.
The new rates for travel to the US, for example, is now Sh59,220, a day, down from Sh107,640.
MCAs in Uashin Gishu County, for instance, have been taking home an average Sh313,339 as monthly sitting allowance, exceeding the Salaries and Remuneration Commission's maximum limit of Sh124,000.
“Each MCA was paid an average monthly sitting allowance of KSh312,339, compared to the SRC recommended amount of KSh124,000,” Odhiambo noted in the halfyear County Budget Implementation Review Report.
The report indicates that at least 12 counties exceeded the SRC's maximum monthly allowance limit.
MCAs throughout the country have blown Sh3.72 billion on local and foreign travel over the last six months.
According to the National Government Budget Implementation Report the Presidency spent Sh154.7 million on hospitality and catering and another Sh68.4 million on motor vehicle maintenance.
The Presidency consists of the Executive Office of the President, Deputy President and the Devolution ministry.
The report indicates that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade is the highest spender on foreign travel, at Sh604.9 million over the past six months.
On the other hand, the State Department for Interior is the highest spender on motor vehicle maintenance, at Sh213.5 million.
The Teacher’s Service Commission is the highest spender on salaries and gobbled up Sh82.22 billion over the past six months.
The IEBC spent Sh49.3 million on legal fees.
In the report, the Controller of Budget raised the red flag on the national growing debt position as well as failure by some ministries to fully embrace the Integrated Financial Management Information Systems.
Other concerns that Odhiambo cites are strikes in the Civil Service and late submission of financial reports to her office.
“There is need for continued vigilance on these areas to minimise exposure. Relevant bodies should maintain risk registers to monitor and report on these risks on a regular basis,” she noted.
In the first half of the financial year, total expenditure by ministerial departments and agencies amounted to Sh629.1 billion, an absorption rate of 39.4 per cent.
This expenditure comprised Sh273.9 billion for recurrent expenditure, an absorption rate of 39.8 per cent.
Sh129.2 billion was spent on development expenditure, an absorption rate of 26.1 per cent.
“While low absorption of development programmes has been attributed, in part, to slow takeoff of development programmes, there is need to ensure timely implementation of budgeted programmes,” the report observes.
Last year, MPs were being paid mileage claims at the rate of Sh109 per kilometre for up to 750km a week.
Any distance covered beyond this limit is compensated at the rate of 70 per cent of Sh109, or Sh76.30, per kilometre, as approved by the Automobile Association of Kenya.