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County officials, MCAs denied access to devolution conference venue over Sh2m debt

By Roselyne Obala and Geoffrey Mosoku | March 8th 2017 at 09:21:05 GMT +0300

Some of the county chiefs at the ongoing 4th Devolution Conference in Naivasha follow yesterday’s proceedings. [PHOTO: BEVERLYNE MUSILI/STANDARD]

This year's devolution conference began on a low key as almost half of the counties failed to remit Sh2 million to cater for the event.

Perhaps more shocking is that one of the counties gave the Council of Governors (CoG) a Sh2 million cheque, which bounced.

The governors' body had sought to raise over Sh150 million from the three-day conference that began at the Kenya Wildlife Training Institute in Naivasha on Monday.

Among the counties that failed to remit their contributions were Lamu, Elgeyo Marakwet, Uasin Gishu, Mandera, Baringo, Mombasa, Embu, Laikipia, Tana River, Migori, Isiolo, Kericho, Kilifi and Kwale. Kiambu paid yesterday morning.

Several county officials from the defaulting counties were denied access to the conference venue.

Even the donor community issued money this year, pegged on different thematic areas such as health and agriculture.

The Ministry of Devolution and Planning, which had pledged Sh30 million, only submitted Sh8 million. The ministry indicated this was to cater for the presidential tent and 60 guests.

A source told The Standard that the annual event budgeted at Sh150 million could not meet the cost of catering for over 6,000 delegates.

The delegates were expected to pay Sh20,000 each, a cost some counties were unable to meet yet their officials and MCAs turned up. They were among the participants who were turned away at the registration centre.

When contacted for comment on the matter, Council of Governors chairman Peter Munya (Meru governor) said they could not afford to be lenient towards the counties that failed to contribute.

"If you don't pay, you don't participate," said Mr Munya.

Isiolo Deputy Governor Mohamed Guleid was among those turned away on Monday evening.

"I have to go back. My county is yet to pay the Sh2 million and I have been told I will not access the venue," said Mr Guleid.

"Only 24 counties paid their dues. This is a county event; if they can't pay for it, we can't allow them to participate," said a CoG official.

"Mandera County paid Sh600,000. This only caters for the governor and deputy governor's registration, accommodation and meals. It can't cater for other officials and MCAs," said a member of the conference secretariat who asked not to be named.

Devolution Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri was also faulted for pledging funds that he didn't remit despite being part of the steering committee handling the preparations.

"The Sh8 million was budgeted for the presidential tent and 60 people. We have now received a list of 75 people and this excludes those from the Office of the President who will be here until the end of the meeting," said a CoG official.

"We received Sh10 million from Parliament for the event. To feed people per day we require Sh14 million," he added.

It also emerged that the donor community was reluctant to release funds for the event, saying they didn't understand why it is important.

"We received Sh4.5 million from UN Women, Sh4.5 million from the World Bank and more from Unicef," said another official.

Nairobi County paid Sh2 million but the turn-out of delegates overwhelmed the organisers, while the MCAs disappeared after receiving their per diem allowance.

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