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Budget committee disbanded after bribery claims

WESTERN
By Ignatius Odanga | June 21st 2018
Busia County Assembly Speaker Bernard Wamalwa in his office. [Ignatius Odanga/Standard]

Members of budget committee said to have demanded Sh1.5 million each to pass the 2018/2019 budget.

Members of county the assembly yesterday made good their threat to disband the Budget and Appropriations Committee over bribery claims.

Speaker Bernard Wamalwa disbanded the committee after the Leader of Majority, Laban Mukhwana and Minority Leader Felix Omanyi asked him to recall their members in the committee.

This comes just days after its former chairman John Obwogo claimed the MCAs were demanding Sh1.5 million each in bribes to pass the 2018/19 budget.

“When the leadership of the parties in the assembly wrote to me to recall their members, as the Speaker, I had to notify them and disband it as the law requires me,” said Mr Wamalwa.

Abolishing committee

He, however, said abolishing the committee would not negatively affect them, even as the June 30 deadline fast approaches.

“It will not affect the budget. I am waiting for the leaders of majority and minority to bring names of new members to the committee,” he said.

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Wamalwa downplayed claims that members wanted bribes to pass the budget. “I do not know whether members wanted the committee disbanded because of the claims. However, the claims were unfounded,” he said.

He added: “The allegations are serious and if there is someone with evidence that members wanted Sh1.5 million each, then he or she should share that information with Ethics and Anti-Corruption for investigations.”

A member, who sought anonymity, confided in The Standard that they opted to disband the committee on the grounds there was an allocation in the budget whose purpose the chairman failed to explain.

He said it was not true that members of the committee demanded money to pass the budget when it comes to the assembly.

“We realised that the budget had many vote heads. We felt only the chairman knew what the money would be used for. But when inquired, the story changed and we were accused of asking for money to pass the budget,” he said.

Earlier, there was drama at the assembly when angry residents stormed the premises to protest against plans to disband the committee.

The protesters, mainly youths, accused the county assembly of disbanding the committee just because its chairman had revealed how members were demanding bribes to pass the budget.

The youths had placards bearing names of the MCAs they claimed were in the forefront in asking for bribes to adopt the budget.

Demand money

One of the youths, William Onyango said:” It is unfortunate that after their plan to demand money to pass the budget was revealed, they have disbanded the committee to punish the chairman for disclosing their bad intentions.”

He added: "We will close the gate with chains and no one will be allowed access to the county assembly."

Erick Makokha, a boda boda rider, warned Governor Sospeter Ojaamong against giving in to the bribery demands.

No intimidation

Wamalwa warned that he would not allow anybody to intimidate the county assembly through demonstrations.

“Nobody shall intimidate this assembly by organising illegal demonstrations as long we are working within the law we swore to abide by," Wamalwa said.

The county's total budget is Sh7.7 billion out of which Sh4 billion will go towards payment of salaries.

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