NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 12 – Former National Assembly Speaker Francis ole Kaparo has lashed out at the Council of Governors (CoG) for rejecting an advisory from the State Department for Devolution on foreign travel and nonessential expenditure.
Speaking to Capital FM News from his Laikipia home on Friday, Kaparo said the position taken by CoG Chairperson Josphat Nanok was ill-conceived since it suggested county governments were not keen on cutting down on unnecessary expenditure mostly incurred through foreign travel and conferences.
“I was shocked when I heard the governors saying (on Thursday) that notwithstanding an advisory given by the Ministry of Devolution, they would use “their money” whichever why they wanted. Where is their mint? This is public money,” the ex-speaker remarked.
Kaparo whose term as National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) Chairperson lapsed on August 12 further criticized the governors for overly relaying on monies collected by the national government instead of diversifying revenue streams.
He dismissed the assertion by CoG “nauseating” saying the county chiefs must be accountable.
“They don’t collect the money. It is the national government that collects and dishes out to them!” Kaparo noted.
The second longest serving Speaker, having served from 1993 to 2008, blamed the National Assembly and the Senate for failing to check on excessive spending.
“The worst thing today is that Parliament is completely dead – moribund,” he said.
Kaparo wondered why funds allocated to the Parliament had significantly increased in successive parliamentary terms yet most of the funds were used on unnecessary travel with parliamentary committees often traveling out of Nairobi to convene meetings.
“Is it that the parliamentarians leave their brains in Mombasa so that anytime they need to transact parliamentary they have to travel to out of Nairobi?” he asked.
According to the advisory issued by the Ministry of Devolution in compliance with National Treasury guidelines, county governments are required to reduce nonessential expenses in line with austerity measures announced by President Kenyatta when he signed the Finance Bill introducing an eight percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on petroleum products last month.
President Kenyatta had on September 14 rejected a decision by the National Assembly to suspend, in totality, a 16 per cent VAT on fuel which had been suspended twice for a cumulative period of five years.
The Head of State instead proposed an eight per cent VAT charge premising his recommendation of the need to generate extra fund for development projects.
According to Kenyatta, the coming into effect of the 2010 constitution in 2013 had resulted into diversion of funds to newly created governance structures especially in counties hence the need to explore other ways of generating revenue to fund development.
“The purpose of this tax was simple. We have to pay for the new constitutional order, and the public services on which Kenyans depend alike,” he said.
“The 2010 constitution widened Kenya’s democratic space; it also fundamentally altered the structures and functions of government. With it, we have seen a substantial increase in political and bureaucratic representation at every level,” the President noted in his speech.
The President outlined the creation of 47 legislative assemblies alongside county executives as capital intensive noting that over Sh1 trillion had been disbursed to counties since the advent of devolution.
“The National Assembly has grown from 290 to 349 members; and our new Senate has 67 elected and nominated members. We also have forty-seven governors, forty-seven deputy governors, and forty-seven new county assemblies – in which sit more than a thousand Members of County Assemblies,” he elaborated.
Kenyatta consequently announced budget cuts affecting hospitality, foreign and domestic travel, training and other less essential spending, cuts that were to cut across all arms of government and cascaded to the counties in a bid to reduce a 7.8 per cent budget deficit to 5.7 per cent in the 2017/18 financial year.
“These budget cuts ask all of us in government to tighten our belts. It also ensures that the sacrifices made by tax compliant Kenyans are matched by discipline,” said the President.