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Governor Lusaka defends himself over Sh600 million travel perks

Bungoma Governor Kenneth Lusaka during the interview on October 1, 2023. [Nathan Ochunge, Standard]

Bungoma Governor Kenneth Lusaka has denied claims that his administration spent over Sh600 million as travel allowances at the expense of development.

The Controller of Budget flagged five counties to have overspent taxpayers money traveling at the expense of development in the 2022/2023 financial year.

According to the CoB, Bungoma was among the counties where millions of shillings were spent on traveling.

The county government spent Sh696.24 on travel expenses according to the CoB report.  Other counties with huge travel expenses were Turkana (Sh1.14 billion), Migori (894.32 million), Tana River (Sh532.65 million), and Nairobi County (Sh529 million).

But Lusaka saka has faulted the report attributed to the Controller of Budget which placed Bungoma among counties with highest expenditure on local travel.

The county chief clarified that over Sh600 million mentioned was part of operational and recurrent expenditures including fuel for county vehicles and repairs, travel expenses for the county assembly, travel allowances for the public during county public participation activities among other expenses.

“The reporting is exaggerated by indicating that the amount was solely for travel expenditure which is completely outrageous and practically impossible even if I had to travel daily throughout the year," argued Lusaka.

He further faulted the report for alleging that the expenditure was for the period of the financial year 2022/23 yet it had also catered for pending bills from the previous financial year (2021/22).

“A large part of the expenditure went to pending bills from the previous regime which we had no option as a government but pay. When we took over, almost all county vehicles were grounded in garages and needed repairs," said the governor.

Lusaka has challenged the Controller of Budget to inform Kenyans how she arrives at her figures to avoid raising unnecessary tension in the counties whenever such reports are released.

"For example, when the CoB says Bungoma has spent Sh696M on local travel and fails to tell the public that the said amount also includes the cost of repairing vehicles, fuel, and payment of pending bills from the previous administration among other costs, that is misleading," said Lusaka

The governor further urged the media to critically examine such reports rather than sensationalize them.

“You need to go through those reports critically and ask those who draw them hard questions," said Lusaka.

During the interview, Governor Lusaka revealed his administration's plans to hire at least 200 more ECDE (Early Childhood Development Education) teachers and promote others.

"We have good plans for our learners right from the foundation, we are building more classrooms as we employ more teachers. I am happy we have streamlined the scholarship program, my next agenda is equipping the vocational training centers to give youths skills that can make them self-employable," he said.

Lusaka said his government is putting in place mitigation measures as the country prepares for the onset of El Nino rains.

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