Counties burst MCAs’ sitting allowance budget limit

Monday March 20 2017

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga addressing

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga addressing Busia County assembly on March 18, 2015. Busia is among the county assemblies that burst their annual budgets for sitting allowances. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By SILAS APOLLO
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Trans Nzoia, Homa Bay, Busia and Siaya county assemblies burst their annual budgets for sitting allowances in a continuing spree of unlawful expenditure in the regional Houses.

The 47 assemblies spent a combined Sh638.2 million in sitting allowances for Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) in three months, a report by the Controller of Budget shows.

The four counties were singled out for bursting the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) ceiling of Sh124,800 per MCA for sitting allowance, even as all the other assemblies spent a huge chunk of their budgets.

Trans Nzoia went over the limit by Sh46,600 per MCA to hit an average of Sh171,400, Homa Bay Sh159,117, Busia Sh135,899 and Siaya Sh129,437.

“During the reporting period, County Assemblies spent Sh638.32 million on MCA sitting allowances against an approved budget of Sh3.34 billion,” says the first quarter report of the 2016/17 financial year obtained by the Nation.

OVERDRAWING ALLOWANCES

The amount spent is 19.2 per cent of the total annual approved budget, an increase from 17.4 per cent in a similar period of the 2015/16 Financial Year.

MCAs have consistently been on the spot for overdrawing allowances — paid for attending plenary sessions and committee meetings, mileage and monthly allowance.

Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo said MCAs’ sitting allowances had a budget of Sh3.34 billion in 2016/17, up from Sh3.31 billion the previous year.

The counties also spent an average of Sh30 million daily in domestic and foreign travel in the first three months of 2016/17, the report shows.

Assemblies and the Executives of the 47 counties gobbled up Sh2.78 billion between July and September 2016.

Of the Sh12.14 billion all the counties budgeted for the year’s travel, Nairobi had by the end of 91 days spent Sh135.14 million. Machakos and Bungoma spent Sh113.58 million and Sh103.80 million, respectively.

At Sh2.01 million, Mombasa had the least expenditure, followed by Garissa (Sh11.30 million) and Laikipia (Sh17.45 million).

Though Ms Odhiambo does not fault the spending as it was budgeted for and was within the limit, it is the staggering figures that have disturbed those who had touted devolution as a service delivery venture and not money-minting and get-rich-quick jobs.

EXECUTIVE SPENDING

“There is a lot of impunity in the counties now,” Opposition leader Raila Odinga said last month, in a rare agreement with President Uhuru Kenyatta. “Some of these MCAs are just wasting money in useless trips they now call benchmarking and bonding.”

On the executives’ side, Bungoma had the largest single expenditure at Sh102.80 million, followed by Nakuru (Sh91.45 million), Siaya (85.47 million), Nandi (77.51 million) and West Pokot (Sh69.18 million).

Nairobi County Assembly spent the highest amount on travel at Sh73.87 million, followed by Machakos (Sh57.48 million) and Kakamega (Sh46.29 million).

Nakuru led the pack in an analysis of the expenditure as a proportion of the annual budgetary allocation, at 80.2 per cent. It was followed by Trans Nzoia and Tana River at 57.4 and 47.5 per cent, respectively.

Other heavy spenders against the budget were Homa Bay at 43.8 per cent, and Murang’a, Siaya and Laikipia at 42.9, 40.7 and 38.8 per cent, respectively.