Taita Taveta Senator raises fresh audit queries on Sh400 million trips

Taita Taveta Governor Granton Samboja.[Boniface Okendo,Standard]

The local senator has expressed concern about reports that the Taita Taveta County government spent Sh419 million on local and foreign trips.

Jones Mwaruma, a frequent critic of Governor Granton Samboja's administration, said the money should have been spent on bursaries for poor children.

He dismissed the trips as unnecessary and uneconomical, with no benefits to the county residents.

Mr Mwaruma told the county administration that it would not achieve its development goals with such wastage.

SEE ALSO :MCAs cut Executive budget by Sh435m

“There are many bright children from poor families who are still languishing at home due to lack of school fees. The money spent on foreign trips should have been spent wisely by supporting such students," Mwaruma said yesterday.

"There is also a need for the administration to invest heavily in education, which is the main driver of economic growth.”

The senator has been travelling around the county explaining to the people the bad financial decisions the county had made, which have been pointed out in the Controller of Budget report.

Mwaruma's assertions have not gone down well with Mr Samboja, who has accused him of spreading propaganda so as to gain political mileage.

Yesterday, the county executive committee member for Finance and Planning, Vincent Masawi, disputed Mwaruma's assertions.

SEE ALSO :Queries over hiring of Tanzanian medic

Dr Masawi said the county had spent Sh331 million on trips, and not Sh419.65 million.

"The figures given by the senator are wrong and misleading," said Masawi.

Low Absorption

Mwaruma also expressed concern at the low absorption of budgetary allocations made to the different projects in the county.

He said this was affecting development programmes.

Mwaruma claimed that the 6.3 per cent absorption rate was too low.

SEE ALSO :Raila calls for mediation to resolve Samboja-MCAs row

He noted that out of Sh18 million allocated to the department of trade, only Sh2.5 million had been spent.

Out of the Sh34 million set aside for youth development only Sh18 million had been utilised.

In the Roads Department, out of Sh211 million allocated, only Sh15 million had been absorbed.

Masawi agreed with Mwaruma that the absorption rate was low.

“It is true that the absorption rate is poor. A task force has to been put in place to verify pending bills,” said Mwaruma.

SEE ALSO :Row worsens as Samboja rules out talks with MCAs

“The poor absorption rate has challenged many counties, especially when a new administration takes over. Definitely, this year things will improve.”

Last year, Samboja appeared before the Senate watchdog committee to explain how Sh843 million collected as revenue in the 2014/2015 financial year was spent when his predecessor, John Mruttu, was in power.

 Senate Committee

At the same time, Mwaruma said he wondered why more than Sh1.63 billion meant for development projects was still lying untouched at the National Treasury.

“I am not fighting the county administration when I tell the local community the truth about how poorly their money is being spent," said Mwaruma.

"In the Senate we always ensure that counties are well-funded to implement projects."

Register to advertise your products & services on our classifieds website Digger.co.ke and enjoy one month subscription free of charge and 3 free ads on the Standard newspaper.

Taita Taveta CountyJones MwarumaGovernor Granton SambojaController of Budget