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Confusion thickens over CoE, Treasury funds row

BUSINESS
By | June 1st 2010

By Beauttah Omanga and James Anyanzwa

Confusion continues to mar the review exercise as row between Treasury and Committee of Experts over funding for civic education refuses to let up.

Aggravating the situation is a revelation Treasury cut off CoE and directly paid the Government Printer, which is a State body, Sh400million but on the experts’ name. CoE complaints in the process the government spent Sh180 printing a copy of the Proposed Constitution instead of the Sh27 CoE would have spent per piece. Fanning the perplexity is the source of Sh90 million CoE maintains was a donation from Prime Minister’s office.

Yesterday, CoE Director Dr Ekuru Aukot said they had not received any money from Ministry of Finance for civic education contrary to a statement by the Permanent Secretary Joseph Kinyua who insists Treasury paid out all monies approved for the exercise.

Aukot argued that Sh100 million which Kinyua on Saturday said was the last amount to be released was actually a donation from PM’s office and the Justice Ministry.

Retired President Moi congratulates new Auxiliary Bishop of Lodwar, Rev Dominic Kimengich, during a thanks giving mass at St Joseph the Worker, Kituro Catholic Parish in Baringo Central, Monday. The former Head of State criticised the clause on abortion in the Proposed Constitution, saying it was against the teachings of the Bible. [PHOTO: DAVID KANDA/STANDARD]

He said Sh90 million was from PM’s office while Sh10 million was from the Justice Ministry.

However, minutes of a meeting between Treasury and CoE The Standard has seen indicate the Sh90 million was from Treasury.

"CoE confirmed to have received Sh90 million from Treasury, Sh10 million from Ministry of Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs and Sh150 million from UNDP. They were informed that additional Sh100 million will be released by donors," read the minutes signed by officials from Treasury and CoE.

Outstanding payments

Mr Peter Oyugi represented CoE at the meeting chaired by Mr Mutua Kilaka, the Financial Secretary. Mr J Oswago, the chief executive of Interim Independent Electoral Commission, also attended the meeting.

The minutes do not refer to any outstanding payments for CoE but, however, indicate the committee should be "considered for additional funding amounting to Sh200 million for the purpose of printing Kiswahili and Braille versions of the document (proposed new constitution)."

Yesterday, Aukot said the funds they were operating on came from sources besides Treasury. "We have not received even a penny from Treasury for civic education.

All the money we have spent came from the PM’s office and the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional affairs and we have documents to prove that," said the CEO.

Asked from where the PM would have sourced the Sh90 million he donated to CoE, Ekuru said, "I can’t tell but I know for sure the money came from his office and not Treasury as claimed by Uhuru".

He was reacting after journalists showed him the minutes indicating Treasury released Sh90 million to the committee recently alongside Sh10 million the committee got from the line ministry of Justice.

Yet to release

Aukot said according to his records, Treasury was yet to release any money despite a commitment by Kinyua who represented Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta at the meeting.

He said donors had contributed about Sh365 million to buy promotional materials among them T-shirts and other advertisements. He said the donor funds were also spent in clearing some debts the commission had incurred.

The CEO said the Government must release "Sh330million to the committee since we have already made commitments with various suppliers".

Aukot said the money they were still demanding from Treasury will be used in radio and TV promotion programmes.

He said plans by Treasury to set aside in the next financial year Sh400 million for the CoE was unacceptable since the committee would have finalised its work in relation to civic education. It is also puzzling because the referendum is on August 4, which is quite close to the Budget in mid-June.

The confusion raises the question: On whose side does the truth lie? Also coming into question is the use of Sh400 million which the minutes reveal was spent at the Government Printer and this raises the question, was it right to spend the money on printing without channeling it through the CoE?

"We were told that by May, the Government Printer would have printed at least six million copies for distribution to Kenyans but as at now, I have a letter from the printer telling me that there is only one million copies available for collection," said Aukot.

He said it was questionable why the government declined to let CoE handle all printing requirements to save money.

"It is interesting that while we are printing copies which we are distributing at Sh27 a piece, the Government Printer is spending Sh180 per copy," he added.

Aukot said as per yesterday, the Government Printer had alerted them of availability of only one million copies, being a shortfall of about 5 million it would have made available by now.

"We have printed about 5 million copies while the Government Printer cannot give what it promised with only days left to the closure of the exercise" he complained.

Sympathetic donors

CoE Chairman Nzamba Kitonga, who spoke on phone to The Standard said his team was set to meet donors today in Nairobi to request for funds to carry out civic education as it termed as misleading Uhuru’s explanation all the Sh330 meant for the exercise has been spent.

Kitonga disclosed that sympathetic donors had agreed to meet the committee and listen to their plight before deciding how much money they would commit to the exercise.

"The donors have accepted to meet us tomorrow (today) to discuss on how they will chip in financially to enable us complete our civic education mandate," said Kitonga.

He said it was "unfortunate" Treasury had decided on its own to spend part of the money they (CoE) had budgeted for civic education to pay Government Printer for more copies of the draft.

"The funds for printing purposes should have been sourced from other votes but not from the cash we had requested, specifically for civic education," said Kitonga.

Uhuru at the weekend told a rally in Embu his ministry had given CoE Sh100 million for civic education while Sh230m was spent in printing copies of the Proposed Constitution.

Kitonga advised all the hired Constituency coordinators across the country to now use public means to reach venues for public education on the draft.

"We had planned to hire vehicles for them but now that we have no funds yet, we have requested them to use public service vehicles to reach the masses where possible," said a dejected Kitonga.

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