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MPs question spending by DP’s office

Thursday, May 16th, 2024 05:45 | By
Deputy president Rigathi Gachagua withy Lands CS Alice Wahome at his Karen residence recently.
Deputy president Rigathi Gachagua withy Lands CS Alice Wahome at his Karen residence recently. PHOTO/Print

Lawmakers have questioned the proposed expenditures for the office and official residence of the Deputy President, calling them expensive in the context of Kenya’s budget constraits.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua is seeking Sh2.62 billion in the 2024/2025 financial year to refurbish his Harambee Annex office and Karen residence, as well as to cover other essential expenses in his office.

 Of the Sh2.62 billion, Sh600 million is for refurbishing the Karen residence, Sh460.4 million for the Harambee House office and Sh800 million for expenditure that was not specified, documents tabled before MPs show.

The other expenses include implementing an alcohol, drugs and substance abuse programme (Sh250 million), purchase of medals, honours and insignia (Sh250 million), and purchasing motor vehicles (Sh200 million).

Lifts not working

Members of the Committee on Administration and Internal Security, chaired by Narok West MP Gabriel Tongoyo, were scrutinising the budget estimates. Tongoyo sought more details about the Sh460.4 million meant for renovations at the DP’s office.

“I know we have a few issues there like lifts not working, but this figure is too big yet the building is only ten years old,” he said.

But in his submissions to the committee, Patrick Mwangi, the principal administrative secretary in the office of the DP, explained that the offices needed to be refurbished because they are old.

“The continuous lack of maintenance has necessitated a facelift targeting major functional areas and security systems of the building,” Mwangi said.

He added: “In the financial year 2024/2025 annual estimates the office has an allocation of Sh300.4 million under the development vote.”

Other notable proposed expenditures in the DP’s office include Sh247.7 million for catering services (receptions), accommodation, gifts, food and drinks; Sh301.5 million for boards, committees, conferences and seminars; and Sh2 million for purchase of staff uniforms and clothing for trainees.

Medals and insignia

On the Sh250 million meant to buy medals, honours and insignia, Mwangi was pressed to explain why the office was spending such large sum of money at a time Kenyans are suffering because of a difficult economy.

Posed Tongoyo: “Are we not becoming extravagant when you know the situation of this country?”

Mwangi responded that they had not issued awards for some time and the numbers of designated recipients keep increasing.

He also explained that the move followed the Executive Order No. 2 of 2023 on reorganising the government’s mandate at the Office of DP to coordinate the conferment of medals and awards through the national and National and County Government Advisory Committee (NCGAC) in line with the National Honours Act, 2023.

He added that the President has honoured Kenyans during national celebrations based on the recommendations of the NCGAC reports.

“The office has, however, not presented the actual honours, insignia and medals awarded in December 2022 and June 2023. The office had requested an allocation of Sh500 million in the financial year 2024/2025 budget to procure the required medals before the next award ceremony and has received an allocation of Sh250 million,” Mwangi explained.

Other expenditures are Sh17 million for international news services; Sh205,000 in entertainment allowance; Sh33.6 million for transport allowance; Sh205.5 million for house allowance; Sh22 million for overtime for the civil service; Sh5 million for domestic servant allowance; Sh328.5 million personal allowance; Sh5200 00 for gas; Sh31.4 million for telephone service, facsimile and mobile phones; and Sh10 million for internet connections.

Travel costs

The budget also includes travel costs for air, bus and railway travel (Sh163.8 million) and mileage allowances (Sh171.8 million); accommodation for domestic travel (Sh91.7 million); sundry items such as airport tax and taxis (Sh5.7 million); domestic travel and subsistence and other transportation costs (Sh343.6 million).

Others are accommodation (Sh93.8 million); state visits abroad (Sh15 million); foreign travel and subsistence and other transportation costs (Sh287.6 million); hire of transport (Sh78.1 million); travel allowances (Sh47 million); book allowances (Sh1.6 million); and tuition fees (Sh13.5 million).

On the Sh250 million allocated for the fight against alcoholism, documents show that the money was withdrawn under Article 223, which allows the government to spend money  outside budget but seek regularisation of the money in Parliament later.

The documents revealed that the money was withdrawn to facilitate Gachagua in his lead role of coordinating government activities, which involved holding high-level engagements like travelling around the country for public engagements, implementing various upcoming and emerging programmes under strategic interventions that include coordination of alcohol drugs and substance abuse, as well as to facilitate execution of the office’s mandate as stipulated in the Executive Order No. 2.

And in his submissions, Mwangi explained that the fight against illicit alcohol had taken on a life of its own and due to the overwhelming work involved they had to incorporate the office of the spouse of the DP, Dorcas Gachagua, as she had also taken the lead in fight ing drug abuse.

Motor vehicles

On the Sh200 million for buying pur vehicles, he explained that the money is needed for activities under Dorcas Gachagua’ following concerns from members that the office had received a double allocation both in the second supplementary estimates and in the main budget.

He added: “We did consider the affirmative action of the DP’s spouse, which is the fallback of the activities of this fight against alcoholism, and the functions of the said office thus became big.”

He said that Sh100 million will take care the junior staff, most of whom use taxis, whiole others use their personal vehicles.

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