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Nairobi County Assembly slams breaks on foreign travel by MCAs, staff

Nairobi County Assembly has put breaks on foreign travels by MCAs and staff for the next four months, as it looks to implement new austerity measures in the current financial year.

This is after the Assembly’s Clerk Edward Gichana, in a supplementary budget estimates tabled before the House last week, proposed the removal of foreign travels allocation vote line with the budget reallocated to other expenditures.

Consequently, should the Sh2.3 billion supplementary budget be approved without amendments then the ward representatives and assembly staff will not go on foreign trips till the end of the financial year ending June 30, 2021.

The supplementary budget is currently before the assembly’s committee on Finance, Budget and Appropriations.

“Specific key changes in the supplementary budget include full removal of foreign travels allocation and reallocation of those funds to expendable budget vote lines,” said Mr Gichana.

The current bid by the assembly to cut its cost will now mean that MCAs and assembly staff who have been traveling out of the country on missions such as benchmarking, miss allowances totaling to more than Sh25 million.

In the current financial year, which is remaining with only four months to its end, the more than 25 assembly committees had been allocated Sh8.6 million for foreign travel, office of the clerk Sh5.9 million while MCAs had a budget of Sh5.4 million.

For the same purpose, the Nairobi County Assembly Service Board has an allocation of Sh2.6 million while the office of the Speaker was allocated Sh1.7 million.

The funding was to cater for air tickets, subsistence allowances and other transportation costs that were to be incurred by the MCAs and the officers while on foreign missions.

The document, tabled before the House last month, is now awaiting debate and subsequent approval by the assembly once it is tabled by the Budget committee chairperson Robert Mbatia.

The Auditor General’s office and that of the Controller of Budget have in the past raised queries on how MCAs’ foreign trips, which are mainly on benchmarking, benefit the electorate.

For instance, the CoB raised a red flag over Sh387 million travel expenditure incurred in the financial year ended June 30, 2020 by former Governor Mike Sonko’s administration and the MCAs.

Out of the Sh387 million, the Executive spent Sh281.47 million in the first six months of the financial year, while the City Assembly spent Sh105.7 million for domestic and international travels.

Foreign travel expenditure accrued to Sh49.33 million and comprised Sh49.08 million spent by the County executive and Sh250, 000 spent by the County Assembly.