NATIONALNEWS

Senators suspend non-core projects in counties

A senate watchdog committee has raised the red flag over huge expenditure counties have allocated “non-core infrastructural projects”, specifically residences of governors and Speakers.

Standing committee on Finance and Budget has consequently called for a freeze on all projects on construction or purchase of the residences to pave way for audit.

Chaired by Mandera Senator Mohamed Mahmood, the team wants the Controller of Budgets to suspend disbursements  for the construction of residences for county governors, their deputies and Speakers in the 2018/19 budgets.

It also wants the Salaries and Remuneration Commission to, within seven days, revoke a circular issued two years ago, which gave all counties lee way to procure the facilities by June 2019.

Uasin Gishu county tops the list of counties which have huge budgets for top officials’ residences and offices for MCAs and county executives.

Heavy spenders

The county has set aside Sh850 million for setting up of assembly offices, while Kilifi has allocated Sh500 million for similar purpose. Nyandarua comes in third with Sh442 million followed by Nairobi and Garissa with Sh400 million each. Embu has set aside Sh335 million while Samburu has a budget of Sh320 million for assembly offices.

Nyandarua county has set aside Sh800 million for establishment of Executive headquarters. In total the county will spend Sh1.4 billion this financial year to construct offices.

Speakers residences will gobble Sh200 million in Kilifi, Sh130 million in Nyandarua, Sh80 million in Nairobi and Sh75 million in Garissa while for governors residences, Kirinyaga has the highest budget of Sh100 million followed by Embu (Sh75 million) and Isiolo (Sh60 million).

The committee said it will engage stakeholders in reviewing the structural designs of the projects to ensure they are rationalised and harmonised, arguing that variance in the costs of construction is wide and guidelines are required.

Speaking last evening at Parliament Buildings, Mahmood said counties have invested heavily on non-core projects at the expense of the core ones and stakeholders need to agree on the scope of the works to be done.

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