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Nairobi MCAs raid budget for new offices to buy vehicles

By Josphat Thiong'o | March 12th 2021
House business going on in Nairobi County Assembly. [James Mwangi, Standard]

The Nairobi County Assembly yesterday raided the budgets of key departments to finance a car grant scheme when members approved a Sh37.9 billion supplementary budget.

A Sh600 million plan to construct offices for the 123 MCAs and their staff was the biggest casualty after it was shelved in favour of the Sh246 million scheme to purchase vehicles.

Finance Budget Committee chairperson Robert Mbatia also revealed that Sh500 million had been slashed from the County Assembly Service Board while Sh75 million was cut from the recurrent budget of the Liqour and Licensing Board.

"We have opted to forego the luxury of having offices so that we can get our car grant. The funds for the grant are coming from two other sectors. The logic was that if members don't have offices, they can still use their cars to move in and out of the wards," said Mbatia.

The ward representatives became the first in the country to set aside funds to buy the vehicles after President Uhuru Kenyatta acceded to requests by more than 2,000 of their colleagues for Sh2 million each in exchange for their support for the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

The administrative building to house the ward representatives was to be built on land set aside for parking between Taifa Road and City Hall Way. Construction was to be done in three phases over three years.

Furnish offices

The first phase was expected to commence in 2019 where Sh500 million would go towards construction while Sh100 million had been set aside to furnish the new offices. City Hall had also set aside Sh50 million to construct 13 ward offices in efforts aimed at improving the working conditions of MCAs.

But Mbatia said the project has now been pushed to the 2021/22 financial year. "We decided to slash the allocation for the new offices because undertaking the project is not feasible with only four months to the end of this financial year."

The budget of the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) to run the transferred Health, Transport, Public Works and Planning functions in the current financial year ending June was also reduced by Sh3.1 billion to Sh27.1 billion.

The Budget Committee also slashed the NMS' recurrent budget by Sh1.25 billion and the development budget by Sh1.85 billion.

Mbatia said the reduction was meant to cater for pending bills related to the transferred functions. The funds, he added, would supplement another Sh2 billion allocation that had been set aside to pay contractors and suppliers.

"The committee noted that the bills have once again not been stratified per sector hence it is not possible to determine which of them will be paid together with the nature and form of the actual bills to be settled," he said.

The budget of the governor's office was reviewed down by Sh178 million from a proposed figure of Sh4.75 billion to Sh4.58 billion. The budget of the ICT and E-government office was also reduced by Sh1 million from a proposed figure of Sh469.7 million to Sh468.7 million.

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