22 October 2018

Kenya: Nairobi Stops MCAs' Foreign Trips After Budget Shortfall

The Nairobi County Assembly has put brakes on foreign travel by members of county assembly (MCAs) until next year.

The move came after the County Assembly Service Board (CASB) suspended all foreign trips until 2019 as a result of a budget shortfall.

PRIORITIES

Acting County Speaker and Ngara Ward MCA Chege Mwaura said the move is meant to curb public wastage of resources and ensure members focus on priorities such as the county's development agenda.

"We resolved to go slow on foreign trips after looking at the resources we have. It was a difficult decision but we saw the need to reorganise ourselves and focus on priorities," Mr Mwaura said on Monday.

Prior to this development, every ward representative was entitled to at least one foreign trip every year.

Majority Leader Abdi Guyo reiterated the former majority chief whip's sentiments explaining that the move is part of austerity measures initiated by the national government.

"The assembly is working hard to redeem its image and ensure residents get value for their money. In light of that, we, as a board, have decided to halt all public travels until 2019 to save on spending of public funds," said the Matopeni Ward MCA, who is a member of the board.

RULES

The development is on the backdrop of a circular by Devolution Principal Secretary Charles Sunkuli on reducing wasteful spending with respect to revenue collection.

The circular demanded that county legislators get approval, explain benefits of tours, send invitation letters copied to the PS as well as total costs including visa fees, airfare and accommodation. They are also to submit detailed reports after the trips.

Kariobangi South MCA Robert Mbatia said the call means the board will only approve pressing foreign trips and that the assembly will divert the resources to more meaningful initiatives.

"We can reallocate the money to improving the capacity of members by introducing a supplementary budget, seeing that the money was budgeted for," said Mr Mbatia, who is the chair of the assembly's Budget and Appropriations committee.

Minority Chief Whip Peter Imwatok welcomed the move but said it should not be confused to mean MCAs have been overspending.

A report by the auditor general's office indicates that MCAs spent sh162 million on foreign travel in the 2016/17 financial year. The county executive spent a staggering Sh267 million in the same period.

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