By John Ngirachu
Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) chairman Micah Cheserem has urged MPs to lead the fight against wastage by government by reducing their allocation for travelling and asking the President to do so as well.
He asked MPs in the Liaison Committee to take that action rather than vote to keep funding for counties down because of the reported wastage that is taking place in the devolved governments.
“As a nation, we must take austerity. It has to start with the top, the President. If he has to go, the delegation must be small,” he told the committee in a meeting to discuss the Budget Policy Statement.
Parliament also ought to show Members of County Assemblies the way, he said.
“If Parliament takes the initiative to cut down on travelling, cut down on wastage and show the way, MCAs may copy Parliament,” he added.
He asked the lawmakers, whose salary and allowances are determined by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, to consider pushing for the dropping of sitting allowances they are paid.
“We can’t afford to spend the way we are spending. Start with State House. Austerity measures must be taken and not just said. When we reduce money for travel, we will get more money to build wards in Meru, buy more pipes for Embu,” he added.
Mr Cheserem and his team were meeting the committee chaired by Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso to discuss the Budget Policy Statement.
CRA wants the counties allocated Sh331 billion as equitable share for the coming financial year, but Treasury wants that reduced to Sh280 billion. The Council of Governors has its eyes set on Sh394 billion.
Members of the committee composed of National Assembly’s committee chairmen were however critical of counties, which they said have made devolution look bad by engaging in profligate spending.
“For the county governments, what needs to be done is for them to use the money they are given properly. No more money should be given,” said David Were (Matungu, New Ford Kenya).
“What have you done about the grand wastage we’re hearing about in the counties?” Dr Laboso asked.
Mr Cheserem said that from the assessments carried out by CRA in the counties, it would be unfair to condemn the devolved governments as a whole.
“There is no question that there is wastage. But these people are copying the centre. The son is learning from the father,” he said.
From their analysis at the CRA, he said, more ambulances have been bought in the counties over the past three years than the national government did over the 50 years the system was centralised.
But while the level of healthcare provision has gone up in places like Machakos, he said, patients in hospitals in Meru and Bondo share beds.
“Let us not mix the two; allocations shouldn’t be mixed with misuse. Finance better the Auditor-General. Pass a law to jail those who steal, not only pay.
“The day you jail a governor, you’ll send a message. The day you jail an MP, you’ll send a message,” he added.
He told the committee there would need to be a bold decision somewhere along the way to see how the number of MCAs can be reduced.
There had to be 770 nominated women MCAs to fill the gender gap as required by the Constitution.
Source: All Africa