MPs on the spot over cash favours

By: JOHN NGIRACHU

Members of the National Assembly’s Budget committee have been accused of favouring their constituencies in the allocation of funds in the last financial year, sparking a protest from their colleagues.

Deputy Minority Leader Jakoyo Midiwo took the matter to the floor yesterday, but asked Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso to organise a closed-door meeting to discuss the issue.

If Mr Midiwo’s allegations are proven, the members of the Budget and Appropriations Committee could have given their constituents preferential benefits worth up to Sh5 billion.

The matter was the subject of frenzied discussions in the corridors and lobbies of the National Assembly this week, but the MPs who were speaking about it did not appear to understand the subject. They also made the discovery after the end of the financial year, meaning it might be too little, too late.

While Mr Midiwo’s proposal for a closed-door meeting, which was readily accepted by Dr Laboso, would yield discussions and necessary clarifications, it would also give MPs a chance to cut deals and also benefit from the suspicious arrangement.

According to Mr Midiwo, MPs in the 51-member committee have been getting preferential treatment from the Education and Transport ministries.

He said that in the last financial year, the bursary distributed through the District Education Board had not been forthcoming in some constituencies.

MPs had, however, noticed that the constituencies whose representatives sat in the Budget committee got the bursaries.

“If you talk, for example, to your District Education Officer, you will find that a neighbouring constituency, whose MP happens to sit in the Budget Committee, is getting these strange monies,” said Mr Midiwo.

He claimed that the “strange allocations of up to Sh20 million were for infrastructure, bursaries and even Early Childhood Development, which is a devolved function”.

“We find that in our constituencies, there is no activity, but in the neighbouring constituencies of these members, there is some activity which is (worth) millions and millions of shillings,” he added.

Budget committee chairman Rev Mutava Musyimi said he was not in the chamber when Mr Midiwo raised the matter, but supported the ruling by Dr Laboso.

“For the simple reason that the same has been said of other committees, if it is true then I think it is a matter that needs to be discussed candidly by all the committees,” Mr Musyimi said.