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Assembly faces cash crisis as MCAs resume business

NYANZA
By Harold Odhiambo | February 13th 2019

A showdown is looming at the county assembly over its financial status as members resume sittings after a long recess.

It has emerged that operations at the assembly risk grinding to a halt due to a cash flow crisis.

Reports indicate that some MCAs plan to kick out the assembly’s budget chairman, Steve Owiti, over the crisis. This is likely to set the stage for fresh leadership wrangles.

Speaker Onyango Oloo blame the crisis on Mr Owiti, but the budget chairman has tried to fight the accusations.

Several employees interviewed claimed that they were barely surviving and that they were working under difficult conditions.

“We even lack the very basic equipment but we are surprised that every week MCAs are flying out of the country,” said a staffer who sought anonymity.

According to Mr Oloo, the assembly might not even have enough money to pay salaries in April.

The budget committee allegedly re-allocated some of the money to fund domestic and foreign travel in the supplementary budget that was passed in December last year.

"It is true. We might even lack money to pay salaries in April, but it is the fault of the budget committee," said Oloo.

Divert money

The speaker said it was difficult for the assembly to divert money dedicated for other activities to buying office equipment.

“We cannot blame the committee chairperson. I have also received reports that some people are trying to remove me, but I will wait for them on the floor of the House,” said Owiti.

During the period the MCAs were on recess, they went on several trips outside the country, with some disgruntled members claiming that some of the vote heads set aside to run the assembly’s daily operations were diverted to trips and training.

The speaker, however, said the MCAs' trips should not be blamed for the cash crisis as the vote heads were different and distinct.

“It is true we might even lack salaries for April, but we cannot divert money meant for training to purchase office stationery and other things,” said Oloo.

The speaker claimed that the budget committee was also to blame for the financial woes affecting the county assembly.

“They shot down the proposals that the clerk had made and there is little we can do now. The MCAs will continue attending training until they fully understand legislation,” he said.

Kisumu is among the county assemblies that have been put on the spot by several State watchdogs, including the Auditor General and the Controller of Budget.

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