Taxpayers miss key services as State spends on probe teams
Posted Monday, September 7 2009 at 22:30
- Numerous taskforces and commissions gobble up funds meant for service delivery
The taxpayer will continue to miss crucial services as the government diverts billions of shillings to cater for tens of taskforces and commissions.
This financial year alone, up to Sh5 billion will be spent on up to 15 commissions of inquiry and taskforces set up by the government to investigate virtually every aspect of the ordinary Kenyan’s life.
This, despite an undertaking by Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta to cut expenditure on such commissions and taskforces so that funds are utilised to deliver services.
In his budget speech, the minister announced that expenditure on taskforces and commissions, advertisement and publicity, furniture, fuel and hospitality supplies would be drastically reduced and funds channelled towards alleviating poverty in the country.
“I have reduced from the ceilings of all ministries, the following non-priority expenditures that I believe will have no material impact on service delivery. Including 20 per cent on hospitality supplies and services, which include, and I emphasize, include payments to various taskforces appointed by the government,” Mr Kenyatta announced.
Currently, there are up to 15 commissions and taskforces in operation or waiting to be set up by the government.
They include the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC), the Committee of Experts on Constitution Review, the Boundaries Review Commission and the Taskforce on the Mau Resettlement.
Those expected to be formed and for which money has already been set aside in the Budget include the Special Tribunal to try suspected masterminds and perpetrators of the 2008 post-election violence and the Interim Constitutional Dispute Resolution Court.
Commissions set up between last year and this year and which have already completed their work include the Waki Commission of Inquiry into the Post-Election Violence, the Kriegler Commission on the disputed 2007 presidential election, the Taskforce on Pyramid Schemes and the Commission of Inquiry into the irregular sale of the Grand Regency Hotel.
Besides being allocated funds under their respective ministries or government departments, the Treasury has also set aside Sh2 billion in this financial year’s budget to cater for some of the taskforces and commissions that fall under Agenda Four of the National Accord should they experience financial shortfalls.
Despite widespread public discontent with the rate at which the Kibaki government, like its predecessor, is setting up taskforces and commissions at the expense of service delivery, the government insists they are well-intentioned.
A statement posted on the website of the Office of the Government Spokesman, Dr Alfred Mutua, attempts to justify the performance of some of the commissions set up under Mr Kibaki’s watch.
“The Goldenberg Commission, set up to unearth Kenya’s biggest scandal, completed its hearings. Prosecutions and recovery shall begin as soon as the report is ready. The Ndung’u Land Commission dealt extensively with cases of land grabbing. Repossession of such land is underway.
“Land grabbing which contributed to 30 per cent of official State corruption is no more. All formerly grabbed government houses are also being repossessed. The Judiciary was purged to rid it of corrupt officers in order to accord justice and equality for all before the eyes of the law.”
In an interview with the Nation, Mr David Mutemi, the director of operations at the Ministry of Justice, which has a number of the commissions and taskforces under its docket, defended the allocations as “reasonable”.
“These commissions are not adequately funded — only reasonably,” Mr Mutemi said.
He explained that funding to the taskforces and commissions under the Justice ministry had already been approved and monies directly channelled to them on a quarterly basis.
We sample the mandate and funding of some of the commissions and taskforces: