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