MPs pocketing millions in ‘crooked’ mileage claims

Parliament Building.
Kenya: Members of Parliament are making fictitious mileage claims and in the process pocketing millions of shillings they are not entitled to.

The Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) has busted some MPs caught making fake travelling allowance claims for distances they never covered.

Even more disturbing, is the fact that nominated MPs, who essentially do not represent any elective constituency claim mileage allowances.

A senior member of the PSC told The Standard on Sunday that one MP claims up to Sh1.5 million monthly and yet no proof is given to show he travels to his constituency in North Eastern.

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The official who sought anonymity produced details of how MPs fraudulently claim millions of shillings in mileage allowances that cost the country in excess of Sh2 billion every financial year.

Even more shocking was the fact that there are no checks and balances to regulate the claims.

The mileage allowance has thus become a cash cow with some MPs claiming money without having to travel to their constituencies.

“Mileage allowance is one of the biggest consumers of our budget. This is the biggest scandal in Parliament today,” said the official. He is disturbed that MPs do not show any proof they actually travelled and even those of us who travel, do not drive to Coast, Nyanza, Garissa, Wajir and other destinations.”

He said MPs normally fly yet the taxpayer pays a mileage allowance amounting to millions of shillings for car use.

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He proposed that the Government adopts the policy of reimbursement of the actual cost incurred upon proof to save the taxpayer.

MPs who agreed to speak on record confirmed that millions of shillings have traditionally been lost through dubious claims.  Legislator Kimani Ichung’wa (Kikuyu) said: “It is true that is one of the most dubious claims in Parliament today. MPs just claim money without any proof. There are some of us who claim between Sh1 million and Sh1.5 million monthly on mileage alone.”

Verifiable claims

He proposed that MPs be asked to claim against actual and verifiable claims to save the taxpayer and deal with the rising wage bill. Alternatively, he said, all MPs could be given government vehicles and fuel to eliminate mileage.

Mileage allowance was part of the contentious issues when the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) locked horns with Parliament last year.

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At a meeting at the Deputy President William Ruto’s official residence in Karen, PSC members are reported to have arm-twisted the SRC and Ruto into ceding ground to allow payment of mileage allowance. PSC members allegedly threatened that if Government did not cede ground, then Parliament would initiate a Motion to disband SRC and would equally refuse to approve the appointments of Cabinet Secretaries.

In Kenya, unlike the practice in other commonwealth countries, it is assumed that an MP travels every weekend to their respective constituencies.

Under the current arrangement, an MP or Senator is allowed to claim Sh187 per kilometer (Automobile Association of Kenya rates) travelled as long as one covers in excess of 750 kilometer.

The fraud is so yawing that one commissioners even tried to claim mileage allowance when she was out of the country but her scheme was exposed when the passport control systems betrayed her.

Another nominated MP wrote to PSC requesting adjustment of his home from Njoro to Kiunga in Lamu but the commission declined.

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When The Standard on Sunday contacted Speaker J.B. Muturi for a comment, he said: “We do not pay any allowance that is not approved by the SRC and that is the case now unless it changes.”

He, however, agreed that in many countries, MPs are reimbursed the actual cost of travelling upon proof of distance covered. In Kenya, an MP is supposed to provide his/her car’s registration number and append a signature against the amount collected.

Apart from the mileage allowance and the Sh5 million car grant, MPs also receive Sh356,000 as car maintenance allowance every month.

But Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo said the mileage allowance is not a significant amount and is part of the Sh356,000 which is paid as cost of maintaining the car every month.

“Mileage claim is a small amount. I don’t think I have even claimed any allowance this year. It is part of the amount you just mentioned (Sh356,000),” he said. But from the documents availed, it is clear that mileage allowance is Parliament’s biggest budget expenditure.

The concerned PSC member demanded that prudent measures be enacted to check and validate MPs’ claims to clip unnecessary wastage and fraudulent claims. It is not clear how the office of the Auditor General clears mileage allowances given that MPs do not show any prove of expenditure.

The Auditor General did not respond to our calls neither did he respond to our text message.

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MPs Mileage allowance Parliamentary Service Commission