12 July 2018

Kenya: Governors Up in Arms Over Move to Limit Cost of Houses

Governors have protested the move by the Senate to cap cost of the county chiefs' official residences at Sh45 million, saying the House had no power to do budgeting for counties.

The Senate had proposed the cap following protests over ridiculous costs of constructing official residences of governors, with some counties having proposed to spend between Sh100 million to Sh300 million on official residences.


"Senate plays the oversight role; they are not mandated to do budgeting for counties. It is ill informed for the Senate to reject the cost proposals shared by counties and putting a ceiling of up to Sh45 million to construct governors official residence," Council of Governors chairman Josphat Nanok said in a statement on Thursday.

The residences, Mr Nanok said, were not personal but State properties, and it was important to "recognise that counties are different and therefore have diverse needs as well as resources."

In the estimates termed as "too lavish" by the Mohamed Muhamud-led Budget and Finance committee, Kirinyaga County had set aside Sh100 million for the construction of the governor's residence, Embu has allocated Sh75 million while Isiolo put it at Sh60 million.

Kilifi County has set aside Sh214 million for the construction of a deputy governor's official residence while it has also allocated Sh200 million for the construction of the Speaker's residence. Nairobi has allocated Sh130 million for the Speaker's residence, Uasin Gishu Sh80 million while Garissa has allocated Sh75 million.

On the ongoing debate on the immunity of governors, the county chiefs yesterday backtracked on their demand not to be prosecuted for crimes committed while in office, instead saying that such arrests and prosecution should follow the law.

"Arraigning a governor in court and denying him or her bail so as to attract media and public attention is completely unnecessary and in bad faith. Governors are not accounting officers. Corruption is a dragon that should be slayed with respect to the law and not public lynching," Mr Nanok said in the statement.

But where public trust is broken by the governor, Mr Nanok said, action should be taken against them.

"It is worth making clear that governors are not in any way calling for non-prosecution of economic and financial crimes. The war on corruption must respect the existing laws and laid down legal procedures should be followed," he said.

On health, the governors vowed to protect it, saying any discussion to revert it to the national government was ill-advised.

"Instead of having a discussion of how to revert some health components back to the national government, the Senate and the National Assembly should be addressing how to adequately fund county health services so that counties can optimally deliver," said Mr Nanok, calling for debate on state agencies he said were receiving "colossal budgets" to perform county functions.


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