NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 28 – Narok Governor Samuel ole Tunai has denied claims that he has misappropriated county funds accrued from the collection of revenue from tourism.
While appearing before the Senate Finance and Budget Committee to respond to a petition by one of the locals questioning his integrity, the governor blamed the accusations on a witch-hunt since he had shut loopholes used by cartels to pocket the monies collected from the vast Mara reserve.
“They were printing their own receipts so that when the tourists come they were selling 90 percent of their own and 10 percent to the county government. The first time we automated, from the records rarely did more than five vehicles pass by the gate, but after automation, there were 118 vehicles. Before, the cash that came to the county government was not more than Sh200,000 but after KAPS came in we collected over 200,000 dollars and more Kenya shillings,” he said.
He promised to submit to the committee evidence of lawmakers and their relatives who were involved in the scam saying they were simply accusing him to try and cleanse their names.
Tunai said since the county sought the services of a private company in revenue collection from the Mara triangle, the amount of money collected had improved greatly as previous losses were due to the fact there were no proper documents supporting the exchange.
“When this agreement was made it was to bring professionalism from the private sector and it has actually improved the services. These are people with experience on environment, wildlife and finance,” he added.
The Kenya Airport Parking Services (KAPS), and the Mara Conservancy, two private companies sought by the Narok county government to collect revenue also appeared before the Senate Budget Committee to defend themselves from claims that they were working in cahoots with the Governor to fleece the county of monies.
“KAPS is simply a collecting agent, Mara Conservancy is involved in management and these are two different companies. We have demonstrated and we are going to provide information on the monies remitted by the Mara Conservancy; It is not true that the two companies have been siphoning money from the county government,” said Tunai.
The committee led by Billow Kerrow (Mandera) also learnt that KAPS had been paying itself by deducting a commission of 6.5 percent (about Sh80 million) of the actual collection of revenue from the tourism returns.
This was in contravention of the Public Finance Management Act and also Article207 of the Constitution which determines the depositing and withdrawal of monies by a county government.
According to Article 207 (3) of the Constitution,” The Controller of Budget has the sole mandate and/or power to approve any withdrawal from a Revenue Fund,” which then means the money which KAPS had been paying itself for close to one year was illegal.
The governor noted this lapse and said the matter had been corrected.