The Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) is on the spotlight after it emerged that its management led by CEO Nana Gecaga and the entire board spent Sh10 million on a trip to Mauritius to receive two awards.
The tour comes at a time the government is exercising austerity measures including cutting down on unnecessary foreign trips and office tea, among other hospitalities.
Payment documents and travel approvals by Ms Gecaga show that the millions were to cater for the awards, air tickets, entertainment allowance and per diems for six nights the 12 KICC staff and eight board members were in Mauritius.
Questions now linger whether the expenditure was good value for the taxpayers’ money.
“With our approval, the listed will leave on May 30, 2019, and return on June 3, 2019, while the CEO together with her executive PA will leave on May 28, 2019, to attend the briefing ahead of the awards,” reads part of a document dated May 14 prepared and signed by Geoffrey Thande, KICC Director of Business Development Services.
The KICC is Kenya’s premier events facility mandated to market Kenya’s conference tourism globally.
Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir, who chairs the Public Investments Committee (PIC) that oversights KICC management, said the matter must be investigated.
“The committee is seized of the matter and is liaising with the Auditor- General to establish whether there was value for the money,” he said.
The board members led by chairman Immanuel Imana Ichor travelled to Mauritius for four days.
A breakdown of the expenses shows that Sh1 million as captured in the payment voucher no. PV677 dated May 13 was paid to World Media and Events Limited, which recognised KICC for the World Travel Award, the Oscars of the travel industry for two categories.
The categories were Africa’s leading Meetings and Conference Centre 2019 and Africa’s Leading Business Travel Destination 2019.
Ms Gecaga pocketed Sh776,500 for the duration she was in Mauritius — Sh277,800 in allowances, Sh398,700 on air ticket (business class) and Sh100,000 in entertainment allowance.
Each of the eight board members pocketed Sh583,900 for the four days they were out of the country for the event- Sh185,200 in allowances and Sh398,700 air ticket (business class).
The other board members listed to have travelled are Ms Jane Adam, Ms Lucy Macridis, Ms Kavinya Mwendwa, Ms Fatma Muses, Mr Jackson Kinyanjui, Captain (Rtd) Kenneth Boit and Mr Peter Nyutu Mwangi.
Individual staff expenditure ranged from Sh386,250 for Rosemary Muthuo, CEO’s executive PA, to Sh300,850 depending on rank.
Management issues that have led to revenue dip at the facility after clients opted elsewhere have been the in-thing.
The famed Durban International Conference Centre (South Africa) has held the award for the last nine years. It is thought Kigali Convention Centre in Rwanda, the emerging new kid on the block in the region, will give KICC a run for its money.
The expenditure could also have not come at a time Auditor-General Edward Ouko has questioned the KICC management over its commitment to collect more revenue.
According to Mr Ouko, the KICC collected a paltry Sh620.8 million in the 2017/18 year, less than a half (46.5 percent) of the projected collection compared to the budgeted Sh1.33 billion.
The huge shortfall in the revenue was not explained, Mr Ouko says, as he drew comparisons to the Sh1.31 billion collected during the 2016/17 financial year. But even as the KICC faces difficulties raising the revenue, Mr Ouko notes Sh696.79 million is recorded as long outstanding debts in unpaid rents, and parking fees, among others.
Already the Ethics and Anti- Corruption Commission has launched investigations over allegations of financial impropriety running into hundreds of millions of shillings at the KICC after complaints were filed in March this year.