Tharaka-Nithi Governor Muthomi Njuki and three members of the National Assembly have defended the spending of Sh6.2 million on foreign trips to the United States and United Kingdom last year.
In an audit report for the year ending June 30, 2018, Auditor-General Edward Ouko said that Governor Njuki could not demonstrate whether the trips benefited the county’s residents.
The audit report lists MPs Kareke Mbiuki (Maara), Patrick Munene (Chuka/Igamba Ng’ombe) and Woman Rep Beatrice Nkatha as those who went for the trip.
Speaking to journalists, Mr Njuki said that following the United Kingdom trip, the county got a donation of three refurbished fire engines all valued at about Sh132 million, a container full of medical supplies and tiles to be used in the renovation of health facilities, among many other goodies.
“The trip added a lot of value to our people because we were able to get goods worth millions of money that would have taken us many years to buy,” said Mr Njuki.
MP Mbiuki said he is the one who connected Governor Njuki to the UK donors in Bedfordshire and that they insisted he must be part of the delegation.
He said initially, the donors had promised to donate two fire engines but during the visit, he was able to convince them and they agreed to add one more which will be unveiled next week.
“The donors are my personal friends because one of them comes from my constituency and they had insisted that I must be part of the delegation to the UK,” said Mr Mbiuki.
Ms Nkatha, who was facilitated with Sh1.9 million to attend the 62nd Commission on Status of Women (CSW) conference in New York last year, accused the county government of “not submitting her travel documents to the auditor-general”.
She said she had requested for the sponsorship, contrary to the report by the auditor-general, and that she had a letter from both Parliament and the relevant ministry.
“I submitted all my travel documents and the conference report to the county government,” said Ms Nkatha.
But she noted that the county government is yet to organise for a workshop so that she can teach the county women what she learnt in the US.
MPs Munene and Mbiuki also accused the county government of failing to submit their travel documents to the auditor.
Mr Munene said the trip was justified because it added a lot of value to the locals and that it is up to the county government to surrender all travel documents for verification.
The audit report notes that the governor and the two MPs spent Sh3,287,664 for a trip to the UK even though the purpose of the travel was not clear from the invitation letter.
The report further noted that the payments were made by the chief of staff from an imprest issued to him to facilitate the travel.
“No reason was given as to why the two MPs, who are not county employees, were paid from the executive’s fund. It has therefore not been possible to ascertain that the expenditure was expended as appropriated and that the executive got value for money,” Mr Ouko says.