Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Speaker orders probe into ‘missing’ Sh9 billion

By PETER LEFTIE and ALPHONCE SHIUNDU

An investigation into allegations that Sh9.2 billion cannot be accounted for in the supplementary budget has been ordered. National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende ordered the departmental committee on Finance and Trade to investigate the allegations and report to Parliament not later than next Tuesday.

Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara clashed in Parliament on Wednesday over claims that Sh9 billion could not be accounted for. Mr Kenyatta accused the Imenti Central legislator of relying on information from “doubtful” institutions to mislead the nation.

“The supposed discrepancy is not real. Let MPs avoid using information from doubtful institutions,” a furious Mr Kenyatta said. In response, Mr Imanyara accused the Finance minister of seeking extra funds on the basis of wrong information.

“There are 200 inconsistencies in the supplementary budget amounting to Sh9.2 billion and the minister cannot purport to come to this House to seek extra funding based on wrong information,” he said. Mr Kenyatta refuted Mr Imanyara’s claims that he had withdrawn Sh31 billion when Parliament had approved Sh22 billion.

The minister said that Treasury had cut back expenditure on non-priority areas. “This does not constitute fraud. It is, in fact, prudent management of public resources,” Mr Kenyatta said. But, brandishing some documents, Mr Imanyara insisted that the Sh9.2 billion could not be accounted for.

His attempt to seek permission to respond to the minister’s statement on Thursday afternoon, saying that he was yet to obtain a copy of the statement, was rejected by Speaker Kenneth Marende, who ruled that ministers did not have an obligation to provide members with ministerial statements.

“A figure of anything near Sh9.2 billion, let alone Sh1 billion, is mind boggling. Kenyans are entitled to know the truth and I therefore refer the matter to the parliamentary committee on finance to establish if public funds have been misapplied,” the Speaker said.

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