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Taxpayers to pay Sh75m for partly boycotted MPs' parley in Mombasa

Members of Parliament registrar for the induction meeting at Pride Inn Beach Hotel in Mombasa. [Benard Sanga, Standard]

A walkout by MPs during a retreat -to push for the release of constituency development funds -has raised questions about the cost of the meeting.

Estimates indicate that 349 MPs spent Sh5.5 million on flight fares and Sh69.8 million on accommodation in hotels at the Coast.

For two days, MPs strolled to a conference hall at Pride Inn Paradise Hotel, Shanzu, to sign an attendant list and left to relax on the beach or around the swimming pool.

Some drove away after signing the attendance list, which will be used in paying allowances -estimated to be Sh10,000 per day for each MP.

If all the 349 MPs travelled to Mombasa, then the taxpayer could cough up Sh3.5 million in allowances for the days they boycotted the retreat.

Some MPs travelled with their aides and drivers. However, the support staff interviewed said they each spend an average of Sh5,000 a day on accommodation and meals.

According to the programme, the MPs will be at the Coast for a week for the retreat that will be facilitated by trainers from Ghana and Uganda.

"We cannot term this a waste of time or money. It is part of our job to fight for Kenyans' rights," said Kaloleni MP Paul Katana when asked about the cost of the boycott to the tax payer.

The retreat was disrupted for two days after the MPs staged a walkout to protest delayed release of National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF), .

MPs from across the political divide vowed to impeach Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndungu for exposing them to ridicule. They said they were forced to play hide-and-seek with needy children in their constituencies who were waiting for bursaries.

Yesterday, Parliamentary Committee Accounts Committee chairman, John Mbadi, said it was expensive to organise such a retreat, but said the National Treasury was to blame for the chaos.

"These retreats are expensive because we even invited guests from Ghana and Uganda. We will not allow the National Treasury to subject us and our speaker to this national shame," he said.

Eldama Ravine MP Musa Sirma said the National Treasury released Sh4 billion to the NG-CDF to end the impasse after National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang'ula intervened.

He said Sh2 billion was released on Tuesday and another Sh2 billion yesterday. This means a total of Sh8 billion has so far been released for CDF.

"In total, the National Treasury has released Sh8 billion to the NG-CDF and it has committed to disburse Sh2 billion every week," said Mr. Sirma.

He revealed that he signed the petition to impeach the Finance CS for delay to release the funds.

"This was not Kenya Kwanza or Azimio affair. We had the unity of purpose and yes I signed the petition, which we will keep and use to impeach him if he does not keep the promise," he said.

Sirma said Prof Ndung'u sent an apology to MPs explaining that the date to release the NG-CDF money had coincided with the day the government was to pay Sh16 billion loan to China.

Dagoretti North MP Beatrice Elachi, who is a member of the Parliamentary Committee on CDF, said the National Treasury reneged on its promise to disburse Sh2 billion every week to the fund.

"This is money budgeted for and we wonder why the government is not releasing it," said Elachi.

Seme MP James Nykal said any MP who will oppose the release of CDF will be digging their own political grave given that the fund was the most accessible by the people.

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