, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 7 – Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma has finally eaten ‘humble pie’ and honored summons to appear before the Senate Public Accounts and Investments committee chaired by Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale to respond to audit queries.
Ranguma was however quick to point out that his decision to appear was because he wanted to be accountable for usage of funds in his county, despite a court order barring governors from appearing before the Senate.
“I come here not because I am cowed, I have come because I feel it is necessary for the public to know that yes accountability is required but there is need for people to comply with the law—but we must now agree on clear principles on how to we will engage with the Senate in future, ” stated Ranguma.
He added that although he had not consulted the Council of Governors prior to his honoring the summons, his decision to appear was meant to shield the ‘pesa mashinani’ referendum push from the perception that it was not justified since the governors were yet to account for money allocated to them during the transition period.
“Even as I have come here I have not requested the authority, but what I want to do also is to use this as part of the diplomacy that you have started; for the sake of ‘pesa mashinani’ lets go there, disregard the law, disregard threats ,just please go and explain because I know they explanations to issues beoing raised,” Ranguma added.
The change in heart by the Kisumu governor seems to have been brought about by the statements by Senator Boni Khalwale who over the weekend attended the launch of the ‘pesa mashinani’ referendum initiative in Nyanza region where he told the two governors to honor the summons to make their work easier.
Ranguma then went on dismiss reports that funds to Kisumu County have been suspended, saying monies allocated to the county were still flowing only that they had received 50 percent of the funds owing to a budget stalemate which was being resolved.
Last week, the Khalwale-led committee met with the Controller of Budget and the National Treasury Permanent Secretary Kamau Thugge over the issue of suspension of funds to defaulting counties, (Bomet, Kisumu and Kiambu) where the committee was informed that the National Treasury was still probing the matter and was yet to take action of the counties.
The National Treasury was given a fortnight to report to the committee on its decision.
During the appearance by the Kisumu governor, the committee learnt that the county was in the process of recovering six months worth of extra money paid to County Executives after an investigation by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission(SRC) revealed that they were being over-paid.
According to the governor, “a salary of Sh230,000 in my view was not sufficient to attract any good people to the county, and in fact I viewed it as a way of making counties to fail because the amount of money was to be intended to attract good people who would drive the performance of the counties” he said in defense of the over Sh 300,000 paid to the County Executives.
The governor says he had to increase their allowances in order to attract qualified people.
The SRC however came in and set the scale of how much one could earn and owing to this the governor says they have started recovering the money.
“I gave an extraneous allowance to fill the gap to make it Sh300,000 and this we did. I was convinced that it was good to do it that way—and there was nothing in law barring me,” he retorted.
The Committee chair has proposed a meeting between the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC), the Senate Public accounts and Investments Committee and a representative from the Council of Governors to outline the issues on remuneration of county staff.