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Why Kisumu MCAs were on last minute spending spree

By Harold Odhiambo and Scophine Odhiambo | Published Fri, July 14th 2017 at 00:00, Updated July 13th 2017 at 22:25 GMT +3
Kisumu County Assembly in session on June 30,2016. (Photo: Denish Ochieng/ Standard)

A report by the Controller of Budget might explain why members of Kisumu County Assembly were on a spending frenzy weeks before the curtains fell on their term.

The County Governments Budget Implementation Review for Half Year 2016-2017 shows that the assembly had underutilised most of the funds allocated to it in the first half of the 2016-2017 financial year.

This was despite a significant increase in expenditure on foreign trips by over 50 per cent by both the county executives and the assembly, which stood at Sh95.02 million, compared to Sh62.6 million in the 2016-2017 financial year, with the assembly spending about Sh10.2 million.

Controller of Budget (CoB) Agnes Odhiambo's report notes that the assembly had only absorbed 33 per cent of its budget on sitting allowances, at Sh28.9 million, against Sh86 million that had been set aside.

The report indicates that the MCAs received an average monthly allowance of Sh96,520 each. The ceiling set by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) is Sh124,800.

More allowances

The figures indicate that the assembly still had several millions in its coffers to spend on sitting allowances by the time its term was coming to an end last month.

This could explain why the MCAs boycotted sittings after signing the allowance list in a futile attempt to extend their stay with an eye on more allowances.

The MCAs have since held special sittings to compensate for the days they missed to pass the crucial House business that had been affected by lack of quorum, including the county's budget.

On June 15, the day the term of the MCAs was supposed to end, the MCAs came in large numbers and signed the allowance list before hastily leaving the chambers, leaving the House without quorum to conduct business.

In the last days of their last term, the MCAs scrambled to take trips, with the report now showing that they spent more on foreign trips in this financial year than in the 2015-2016 financial year.

In May, the MCAs visited Rwanda, Singapore, and Malaysia. This sharply divided the House, with some MCAs accusing Speaker Anne Adul of dictating not only the destinations of travel but also who made it to the list.

Thursday, Kisumu County Clerk Ben Opiyo said his office was still studying the CoB report, adding that all the activities and trips that the assembly organised in its last days were budgeted for.

"We budgeted for trips under training and there is nothing that the assembly did that was not within the confines of the law," said Mr Opiyo.

Separately, there was drama at the Migori county assembly on Wednesday when an MCA grabbed the mace in an attempt to stop the House from confirming acting clerk Tom Opere pending the decision of a court case.

Mr Opere has been the acting clerk for more than two years. He was appointed after disciplinary action was taken against the then speaker.

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