Police surveillance, Huduma cash slashed

President Uhuru Kenyatta is shown how the surveillance cameras work at the Police Command Centre at Jogoo House, Nairobi. [PSCU]

Members of Parliament have slashed more than Sh1.2 billion allocated to the Ministry of Interior for running communication surveillance programmes countrywide.

In the recommendations to the 2019-2020 financial plan, Parliament’s Budget and Accounts Committee also cut allocations to the National Integrated Information Management System (NIIMS), which runs the Huduma Namba project, as the Government ponders the next phase of the controversial project.

The deductions come amid concern over failure by State departments to complete public projects already funded and make prompt payments to suppliers.

Of the deductions made from the Interior Ministry budget, Sh1.2 billion has been cut from the National Secure Communication and Surveillance System project and the monies re-allocated to other departments.

The National Secure Communication Surveillance project commenced in 2015 when the State gave Safaricom and Chinese company Huawei a Sh15 billion tender to install CCTV cameras.

An attempt by the Government in the 2016-2017 financial year to introduce a device management system that would have been installed on the country’s main mobile networks was stopped by the High Court over human rights and privacy concerns.

“Another Sh577 million has been deducted from NIMMS, which last month completed the first registration drive for the Huduma Namba,” noted the proposal.

The Huduma Namba project kicked off to a rocky start after the High Court quashed mandatory registration requirements and stopped the Government from collecting Kenyans’ GPS and biometric data.

In April, a few days into the registration process, Parliament blacklisted the firm IDEMIA from conducting business in Kenya. The firm, which rebranded from IT Morpho, was sanctioned for procurement malpractices in the 2017 General Election, which saw presidential results nullified for the first time in Kenya.

The Budget and Accounts Committee, however, increased allocation to the Kenya Coast Guard by Sh300 million for the acquisition of more patrol boats along the Kenyan coastline, Lake Victoria and Lake Turkana.

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) will also receive a boost for its activities after an additional Sh200 million allocation to enhance operations and maintenance.

A further Sh300 million has been allocated to the Department of Immigration for digitisation of records and Sh100 million allocated for the digitisation of births and deaths records.

Treasury CS Henry Rotich will read the 2019-2020 Budget on Thursday.