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House team summons CS Balala over Sh230mn unexplained expenditure

Among the issues the MPs were to discuss include the Sh52 million outstanding pending bills at the ministry and the department’s unbudgeted expenditure which amounts to Sh230 million among a host of other issues/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya Aug 27 – A parliamentary committee has invited Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala to appear before it next week over audit queries raised by former Auditor General Edward Ouko in the 2016/2017 Financial Year report.

The invitation to have CS Balala appear before the Public Accounts Committee was occasioned by the absence of a substantive Principal Secretary in the State Department of Wildlife after its previous holder Susan Koech was indicted over corruption allegations in the multi-billion shillings Aaror and Kimwarer dams’ scandal.

Directors of the Department of Wildlife who had presented themselves before the committee to respond to questions by MPs were sent away by the Committee Chairperson Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja) who after reaching a consensus with members ruled that it would be erroneous to proceed with the meeting.

“We shall be writing to the CS in the course of next week to appear before us. With the absence of the ministry’s accounting officer, the CS has no option but to appear before the committee,” he said.

Director Stephen Manegene from the State Department who was prepared to respond to the MPs questions, told members that there was already a recommendation from the Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua to have PS Joe Okundo moved from the Tourism docket to Wildlife.

He told members that until the recommendation is ratified, he was ready to react towards the queries raised, a plead however, that was opposed by Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo who supported calls to have the meeting adjourned to a later date.

“It appears to me the department’s hands as well as ours are tied and it will only be logical to adjourn this meeting to a later date until a substantive accounting officer is appointed,” he said.

Last month, the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji listed PS Koech as among individuals who abused office in the procurement process surrounding the construction of the Aaror and Kimwarer dams.

PS Koech and 26 others is out on cash bail.

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Among the issues the MPs were to discuss include the Sh52 million outstanding pending bills at the ministry and the department’s unbudgeted expenditure which amounts to Sh230 million among a host of other issues.

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