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Fact-check: Was statement by Raila on MCAs’ car grant true?

FACT CHECK
By Jael Mboga | February 22nd 2021
ODM leader Raila Odinga at Ratanga village in Ndhiwa constituency on February 20, 2021. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

ODM leader Raila Odinga’s statement on the Controller of Budget’s comments on MCAs’ car grant has been circulating online. The letter started circulating on Monday 22 February 2021 and is dated the same day. 

“My attention is drawn to a letter by the Office of the Controller of Budget (OCOB) … purported that the car grant to MCAs directed by His Excellency the President is not included in the budget line,” reads the statement.

The statement quotes Raila as saying the car grant to MCAs is not a favor but a requirement for State officers to enhance their grassroots activities. It went on, adding that the work of the Controller of Budget is not to determine budget lines but to oversee the implementation of the National and County Government budgets.

Further, Raila is quoted as saying a recommendation from the Head of State cannot be subverted by individuals engaging in selfish and divisive politics.

“Enemies of devolution have started coming out i.e. persons whose aim is to prevent monies going closer to mwananchi,” reads the statement.

Further, Odinga warns MCAs not to be distracted by political beneficiaries and listen to the will of the people.

When contacted by Standard Digital, the ODM communications director Philip Etale said the statement was fake and was not from Raila Odinga. 

About the MCA car grant

Meanwhile, MCAs may have to wait a little longer to benefit from President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Sh4.5 billion car grant pledge.

In February, Mengich responded to a letter by the Council of Governors (CoG) chair and Embu Governor Martin Wambora, giving consent to MCAs car grant which immediately got condemnation from some quarters, terming it a “bribe” to entice them into passing the Building Bridges Initiative Bill in record time.

Just days after the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) chair Lynn Mengich gave the green light to governors to effect the conversion of the car loan into car grants in line with President Kenyatta’s pledge to MCAs, the Controller of Budget (CoB) is raising fundamental concerns that could slow implementation.

In a letter to SRC Chief Executive Officer Ann Gitau, Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakango cautioned that most counties budgeted for a car loan facility and not a grant.

“In others, the car loan facility is being implemented through legislation enacted to create a revolving fund. These legislations do not provide for the issuance of car grant,” said Nyakango. The letter was copied to the Council of Governors (CoG) and County Assemblies Forum (CAF).

“Some counties are operating one mortgage and car loan fund for the staff and members of the county assembly. It should be noted that in some counties, the kitty is not fully funded,” Nyakango wrote.

The CoB categorised the request from the county governments to authorise the withdrawal of the funds into two groups, namely an advisory on how to implement the conversion of the car grant loan facility into a grant and the withdrawals from the County Revenue Fund (CRF) to finance the same.

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