Bloated wage bills, reps’ perks, trip ex­penses slammed in au­dit

Con­troller of Bud­get Agnes Odhiambo says lack of an in­ter­nal au­dit com­mit­tee to over­see fi­nan­cial op­er­a­tions in the coun­ties a ma­jor chal­lenge. Lo­cal rev­enue dwin­dling

The Star (Kenya) - - Counties Coast - MAU­REEN MUDI @mau­reen­mudi

Coast county gov­ern­ments are in the spot­light for huge wage bills, un­nec­es­sary for­eign and do­mes­tic trips and pay­ing hefty al­lowances to MCAs and county of­fi­cials.

In the 2015-16 An­nual Coun­ties Bud­get Im­ple­men­ta­tion Re­view re­port, con­troller Agnes Odhiambo said lo­cal rev­enue is dwin­dling, and fi­nan­cial re­ports are sub­mit­ted late to Trea­sury.

The Con­troller of Bud­get said lack of an in­ter­nal au­dit com­mit­tee to over­see fi­nan­cial op­er­a­tions in the coun­ties is a ma­jor chal­lenge. She said there was an im­prove­ment in the ab­sorp­tion of devel­op­ment bud­gets.

Travel ex­penses in Mom­basa county shot by 130 per cent, from Sh55 mil­lion. Mom­basa Se­na­tor Has­san Omar said there is a lot of non-pri­or­ity ex­pen­di­ture and few devel­op­ment projects to show.

“A gov­er­nor doesn’t need to travel at the cost of Sh127 mil­lion per year. The cost of the trip is ex­tremely un­nec­es­sary. In the last two years, I ha- ven’t gone for a sin­gle par­lia­men­tary trip,” he said on the phone yes­ter­day.

The county fur­ther spent Sh57.43 mil­lion on sit­ting al­lowances for the 43 MCAs.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor Richard Chacha said Mom­basa has the low­est travel ex­penses coun­try­wide. “We are not get­ting enough from the gov­ern­ment, so we have to go to meet our part­ners. There is a freeze on travel to en­sure we fin­ish our projects,” he said.

MOM­BASA

Mom­basa spent al­most Sh4 bil­lion on salaries, while Kil­ifi spent Sh2.5 bil­lion, up from Sh1.8 bil­lion the pre­vi­ous year.

The wage bill for the last fi­nan­cial year rep­re­sented 46.8 per cent of the to­tal ex­pen­di­ture, against the county’s ceil­ing of 35 per cent.

Nyali MP Hezron Awiti urged the county gov­ern­ment to ta­ble the staff list to avoid pay­ing ghost work­ers.

“The county gov­ern­ment is be­com­ing ex­trav­a­gant in its spend­ing of lim­ited re­sources by en­gag­ing in ac­tiv­i­ties like bring­ing for­eign mu­si­cians who add no value to the county,” he said.

Awiti de­manded res­i­dents be told what such trips have yielded in terms of di­rect or in­di­rect devel­op­ment.

“We have ev­ery right as tax­pay­ers to be told how the funds were spent and what each trip achieved so that it does not look like se­nior of­fi­cials were just on joyride at the ex­pense of other projects,” he said.

“Sim­i­larly, it is im­por­tant for Mom­basa res­i­dents to be told what the huge wage bill has done, given that the county still reels un­der the bur­den of un­em­ploy­ment.”

TAITA TAVETA

In the re­port, Taita Taveta spent Sh1.8 bil­lion on salaries, an in­crease of 18.2 per cent, com­pared to Sh1.4 bil­lion in 2014-15.

Salaries were 50.8 per cent of the to­tal ex­pen­di­ture. The county spent Sh31.45 mil­lion on sit­ting al­lowances for the 35 MCAs and the speaker, against the an­nual bud­get al­lo­ca­tion of Sh58.06 mil­lion.

This was an in­crease from Sh26.44 mil­lion the pre­vi­ous year.

KWALE

In Kwale, the county spent Sh38.05 mil­lion on sit­ting al­lowances for the 33 MCAs and the speaker, against the an­nual bud­get al­lo­ca­tion of Sh39.79 mil­lion.

“This was a de­crease com­pared to the Sh47.63 mil­lion spent in 201415,” Odhiambo said. Kwale, in the last fi­nan­cial year, spent Sh1.6 bil­lion on salaries, an in­crease of 26.2 per cent, com­pared to the Sh1.2 bil­lion it spent in 2014-15.

Travel ex­pen­di­ture in the county in­creased by 23.8 per cent from Sh225 mil­lion to Sh278 mil­lion.

TANA RIVER

Tana River spent Sh866 mil­lion, an in­crease of seven per cent from Sh809 mil­lion.

The county spent Sh28.31 mil­lion on sit­ting al­lowances for the 27 MCAs and the speaker, against the an­nual bud­get al­lo­ca­tion of Sh55.7 mil­lion. “This was an in­crease com­pared to Sh21.55 mil­lion ear­lier spent,” Odhiambo said.

The county re­duced its travel ex­pen­di­ture by 30.7 per cent from Sh210 mil­lion to Sh145 mil­lion.

LAMU

Lamu spent Sh822 mil­lion on salaries, an in­crease of 26.1 per cent, com­pared with an ex­pen­di­ture of Sh651 mil­lion in 2014-15.

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