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City Hall cuts MCAs travel budget

City Hall has reduced its budget for domestic travel by Nairobi MCAs and staff by Sh17 million in a bid to rein in local traveling expenses.

This follows a report by the Controller of Budget early this month which fingered MCAs for pocketing millions in travel and per diem allowances, some exceeding the cap set by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC).

Subsequently, in the financial year ending June 30, 2022 beginning next month, Nairobi County Assembly will only have Sh20 million for domestic travel and subsistence, and other transportation costs.

The county assembly had requested for Sh37 million towards the vote head but will now have to budget with Sh20 million with the initial allocation was slashed.

While reading the budget statement last week Thursday, Nairobi Finance and Economic Planning Executive Allan Igambi said the slashed money will now be dedicated to the promotion and/or recruitment of county government employees.

“That the allocation for domestic travel and subsistence and other transportation costs under the office of the Clerk be reduced by Sh17million and the budget be amended accordingly to reflect that,” reads the statement in part.

Most of the domestic travels are for retreats and workshops where the county legislators are paid travel allowances and per diems.

When MCAs go out for a retreat, they are entitled to a daily per diem of Sh14,000 in addition to Sh20,000 as transport allowance, among other payments.

A March, 2021 report by Nairobi Assembly’s Liaison committee exposed the MCAs fondness for retreats as opposed to attending committee sittings, with the assembly spending over Sh85 million in allowances to the MCAs last year alone.

According to the report, despite the committee being virtual, members failed to log in denying the committee’s required quorum to transact any business.

During the assembly’s fifth session, between February 4 and December 3, 2020, the ward representatives went for 45 retreats through the 23 committees at the city assembly.

It also emerged that the committees failed to table retreat reports exposing the assembly to audit queries.

Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o, in the budget implementation review report for 47 counties for the nine months of the current financial year ending June 30, 2021, listed Nairobi together with Meru, Kajiado , Machakos, Siaya, Bungoma and Tana River as the biggest spenders on travel and per diem allowances.

In the first nine months, Nairobi spent Sh297.7 million only on travel despite the tough economic times caused by Covid-19.

The situation was no different in the last financial year ended June 30, 2020 where the county government spent Sh387.2 million on international and domestic trips in the first half of that financial year.

However, domestic travel took the largest chunk of the expenditure at Sh337.9 million with the executive spending Sh232.39 million, while MCAs spending Sh105.5 million.