National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi on Friday dismissed claims that he has stopped the ongoing investigations by Public Investments Committee (PIC) into the proposed takeover of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) by the financially ailing Kenya Airways (KQ).
In a statement by National Assembly Clerk Michael Sialai, Mr Muturi said that PIC - a watchdog committee mandated to investigate financial viability of public projects among others - is seized of the matter.
"While a matter of major government policy as this falls within the mandate of the Transport, Public Works and Housing committee, PIC has an extended jurisdiction to examine whether the affairs of public investments are managed in accordance with sound financial principles and prudent financial practices," Mr Muturi said.
The JKIA, Kenya’s premier international airport that recently opened to the United States of America in direct flights, is managed and maintained by the profit-making Kenya Airports Authority (KAA).
Kenya Airports Authority manages all airports and airstrips across the country. "At this juncture, it is important to state that while PIC was examining the audited reports and accounts of KAA for the financial year 2012/13 and 2015/16, it came to their attention that there was a proposed takeover of the operation and management of JKIA," the Speaker said.
Why the loss-making and privately owned KQ, by majority shareholding, would want to take over the facility continues to baffle keen observers.
The proposed Privately Initiated Investment Proposal by KQ is the subject of a Cabinet paper prepared in May last year.
Mr Muturi equally dismissed a letter doing rounds within Parliament purported to have been issued by his office after an intervention by PIC chairman Abdulswamad Nassir.
The letter, which bore the Speaker’s signature, claimed that investigations about the takeover be handled by the Transport committee chaired by Pokot South MP David Pkosing.
"Whatever you are saying has not come from me. On a matter of this magnitude that touches on the mandates of departmental and watchdog committees, you know how I communicate," Mr Muturi said.
On Wednesday this week, the PIC tabled in the House a preliminary report recommending that the National Assembly stops the proposed takeover.
They went further to request Auditor-General Edward Ouko to audit the proposal and report back to them within 60 days.
While suspending the KQ bid, Mr Nassir noted that the bid would render KAA bankrupt, jeopardising plans engineered by Cabinet to hand the national carrier financial lifeline.
It is not the first time the two committees are tussling over a matter of similar nature.
In 2014 the committees claimed original jurisdiction on investigations into the Sh327 billion financing of the Mombasa-Nairobi standard gauge railway.
But in his wisdom, the Speaker ruled that PIC investigates the financial viability of the project and whether there was prudent use of public funds as Transport committee focuses on policy matters.
Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter has also opposed the JKIA takeover, saying that Parliament will not be compromised into backing the illegal takeover.
"Parliament should not allow this to happen. We will fight all the way to ensure that JKIA does not go. We are toxic to corruption tendencies anywhere in this country, more so in Parliament. We are determined to defend KAA," Mr Keter said.