Mercy Mwai @wangumarci
National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has exonerated the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) over claims by the Auditor General that it spent Sh569.3 million on mileage claims for Members of Parliament without following procedure.
The PAC has cleared the PSC of any wrongdoing following the payment of the money that the Auditor General finds was done outside regulations. According to the Auditor General’s report, some MPs were paid mileage allowances in 2014/15 and 2015/2016 financial years, totalling Sh298.8m and Sh270.5m respectively, without clear explanation as to how the money was arrived at.
The money was paid following old tradition of mileage claims calculation system, yet new guidelines had been put in place by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC). “Examination of records has revealed that some Members of Parliament were paid mileage allowances totaling to Sh569,363,399, without clear guidelines,”reads part of the report.
But, in order to justify the payment, PAC chaired by Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja MP), in its report told the PSC to adopt and implement the SRC circular of June 1, 2013 as read together with a Memorandum of Understanding between SRC and PSC which provided guidelines on how the mileage claims should be paid.
The circular by SRC provides that the mileage claims should be calculated based on the applicable Automobile Association of Kenya (AA) rates and the distance from the member’s home while the MoU provided that for the first 750 kilometres per month, a fixed rate of 356,525 be paid to all MPs while any mileage claim beyond 750km be paid at the applicable AA rates.
“Noting that the SRC circular dated June 11, 2013 is clear and precise on the processing of the mileage allowances, the committee resolves that PSC be guided by the said circular, thereby resolving the audit query,” the report said.
The recommendation of the PAC came even as the commission said that it was exploring ways of facilitating MPs representing Nairobi county who are not entitled to mileage claims.
In addition, the justification was based on an assertion by PSC that MPs have two working stations, in Nairobi and in their constituencies and thus Parliament had been, by practice, been paying for the mileage claims.