Governors spend Sh1bn on travel in three months, Controller of Budget say

The Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo. [PHOTO: STANDARD/FILE]
By MOSES MICHIRA

NAIROBI, KENYA: Governors spent more than Sh1 billion on travel in a period of three months, a report by the Controller of Budget has said.

The allegations of the extravagance could kick off a storm in the management of devolved resources, while raising fresh fears about priorities in the counties.

The travel costs, according to Agnes Odhiambo, the Controller of Budget, included air tickets for international travel for governors, county executive committees and members of county assemblies.

SEE ALSO :County budget questioned

While the report does not reveal the nature of trips the county officials made during the period, the total spend is way above the Sh872 million that governors allocated to development projects.

A further Sh242 million was used for conferences, while Sh161 million went to training. The shocking revelations have been made by an audit of the actual expenditure in the 47 counties between July and September last year.

During the period, members of the county assemblies earned more than Sh473 million in sitting allowances in addition to their hefty salaries.

Ms Odhiambo warned in her report that the expenditure on sitting allowances was unsustainable.

“The office (Controller of Budget) recommends that sitting allowances for MCAs need to be rationalised as this expenditure may not be sustainable, given the already escalating wage bill nationally,“ Ms Odhiambo said in her report.

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Machakos, Kiambu and Laikipia counties have spent the highest amounts on travel-related expenses at Sh52 million, Sh46.7 million and Sh46.6 million respectively, while Nakuru had the biggest allocation on food, put together as conferences, hospitality and catering.

NEW WORKERS

Salaries and wages for county staff were the single largest expense in all the regions, with the wage bill expected to grow exponentially following the recruitment of new workers and adoption of employees seconded from the national government.

More than Sh7 billion was spent on paying salaries and allowances, while Sh4.9 billion was used for operations and maintenance. A soaring wage bill has been a major concern especially for the National Government, prompting concerns from local and international agencies.

Counties that have only been in existence for ten months have been confronted with the same problem, which economists observe would deny resources to productive sectors.

SEE ALSO :Sh2.9b spent on travel alone

Odhiambo has also expressed reservations about the nature of expenses and accountability because some counties were operating several bank accounts.

The use of multiple bank accounts made it difficult to track all expenditures and, as a result, reconciling the revenues and expenses could not be accurately executed.

Agnes Odhiambo Evans Kidero