Joho to face Senate again over Sh4b pending bills

Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho (second right) before the Senate Public Accounts and Investments Committee on Friday. [Maarufu Mohamed,Standard]
Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho is scheduled for another round of questioning by the Senate Public Accounts and Investments Committee next month to explain pending bills amounting to billions of shillings.

The governor has to face the committee for the second time after a session held at the Momabasa County Assembly chambers was on Friday interrupted by a call from State House Mombasa. The session was adjourned because Joho had to go meet President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The session turned dramatic when county Head of Treasury Ayub Buhiri was sent out of the chambers to bring his Institute of Certified Public Accountants (ICPAK) membership number after he failed to produce it.

He however failed to return and the committee insisted he would present it in the next hearing to prove that he is qualified to hold the key docket.

SEE ALSO :Joho mum as Mombasa hits third month without Cabinet

“We are allowing the governor to meet the president but we will have the next meeting with him on October 4 or as soon as it is possible,” committee chairman Moses Kajwang said.

Joho’s team told the committee it was grappling with Sh4 billion pending bills accrued by the defunct Mombasa Municipal Council, but denied presenting Sh1.8 billion pending bills to the Auditor General.

The governor told the team that the bills were mostly on pension funds and costs incurred by the former council.

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Joho said the county had targeted to collect Sh5 billion in revenue in the current financial year and Sh10 billion by 2020. He said the county collected about Sh4 billion in the last financial year.

He however called for policies and the necessary legislation to enable counties tap on new revenue streams.

SEE ALSO :County in limbo as Joho mum on naming officers

Kirinyaga Senator Charles Kabiru urged the governor to push for the establishment of Dongo Kundu special economic zone to enable the county increase its revenues.

Kiambu Senator Kimani Wamatangi insisted that the county treasury must be headed by someone with the right qualifications.

Also present were senators Mohamed Faki, Millicent Omanga, Sam Ongeri and Ladama ole Kina.

The team sought an explanation on expenditure of additional Sh1 billion in the 2017/18 financial year.

Joho faced allegations that the executive has been intimidating and bullying the County Assembly and refusing to honour their summonses, but he denied the claims. The governor was tasked to explain why he could not spend Sh772 million in 2017/18 while his administration failed to meet the 30 per cent spending on development budget during the period.

SEE ALSO :Senate to grill governor, says he broke the law

He said the money could not be spent because it was disbursed late by the National Treasury.

He said he spent an additional Sh1 billion on nurses and early childhood development education (ECDE) teachers,  following the opening of hospitals, an intensive care unit at Coast General Hospital and new ECDE centres. “We had budgeted for the Sh1 billion. It was meant to pay nurses and ECDE teachers after we opened new facilities,” he said.

County Finance executive Mariam Mbaruk said Auditor General has been keen on the pending bills but silent on the assets of the defunct council, which the county government still has no access to.

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Hassan JohoSenateSenate PAICMombasa County