Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka dragged into William Ruto luxury jet probe

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Ruto+JetNairobi, Kenya: The international travels of CORD’s Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka were dragged into a probe of Deputy President William Ruto’s controversial jet hire that cost taxpayers Sh18.5 million.

Details purporting to show that the former Prime Minister and former Vice President, both now leaders of the Coalition for Reform and Democracy (CORD), each spent even more during foreign trips were tabled before a parliamentary committee investigating Ruto’s first foreign trip as Deputy President.

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The Secretary of Administration in the Office of the Deputy President, Abdul Mwaserrah, tabled figures showing that Musyoka and Odinga spent millions in foreign travel during their tenure in office.

Odinga, for example, spent Sh10.5 million for a three-day visit to Switzerland to attend the World Economic Forum, Sh5.8 million for a two-day visit in Turkey for the conference on Somalia, Sh26.9 million for a weeklong tour of the UK to attend the London Olympics and Sh18.8 million for an official visit to Malaysia and Korea.

For the 18 days he spent abroad, Raila spent Sh62 million of taxpayers’ money, with Sh41 million going to accommodation while Sh21 million went to air tickets. That was in 2012.

On the other hand, Kalonzo’s shuttle diplomacy to Egypt for five days cost Sh20 million, with Sh15 million being used for accommodation. On another trip to Libya and Nigeria, Kalonzo and his delegation cost the taxpayer Sh20 million for 10 days. That was the cost of air tickets and accommodation.

James Bett (MP, Kesses), Cecily Mbarire (Runyenjes), and Jude Njomo (Kiambu) all said the Sh18.5 million that Ruto had spent on hiring the jet was comparatively cheaper than the money spent by his predecessor.

Penalise companies

But they did not include the cost of accommodation and the perks paid to the 14-member delegation that accompanied Ruto to Congo, Nigeria, Gabon and Algeria in May, because this could have pushed the cost beyond the Sh18.5 million paid for the plane.

However, the committee chairman, Ababu Namwamba (Budalang’i) and John Mbadi (Suba) all held the view that Mwaserrah should go back and bring “a comprehensive comparative analysis” showing the cost of hiring a jet, vis-à-vis the cost of using commercial flights.

“Let’s compare like and like,” said Mbadi.

It emerged Tuesday that all of the companies that tendered to hire the Deputy President a jet had never filed their returns since they were incorporated and were therefore operating illegally.

The Registrar of Companies, Bernice Gachegu, vowed to penalise all the companies that were involved in the tendering process because none of them had ever filed their annual returns.

“The law requires that the companies should file their annual returns every year. These companies have not been prosecuted, but they have broken the law,” Gachegu told the House committee.

The firm which won the tender, EADC Ltd, which is the partner for Vistajet (the operators of the jet that carried Ruto) was registered on November 21, 2011, and has two directors; Ahmed Khassam and Deepak Kumar. Khassam, a Briton, has 499 shares, while Deepak, a Kenyan, has one share.

The other companies are Lady Lori Kenya Limited and Aircraft Business Management.

The Public Accounts Committee meeting in Parliament buildings Tuesday was told that two missing Local Service Orders (LSOs), which the MPs had initially believed could have been used to pay for the jet, have now been cancelled.

Mwaserrah said the theft of the crucial documents, which are used as a basis for payment of services delivered to the Government, was discovered on May 19.

“These were not used for any transactions within our office.  The Integrated Financial Management Information System did not capture them at all. These documents have been cancelled and they cannot be used for any further transaction,” Mwaserrah told MPs. The LSOs were cancelled on July 29.

Executive order

Mwaserrah also added that Ruto made the trip “on instructions from the President”.

“There’s a difference between an Executive Order and an instruction from the President to his Deputy…a presidential instruction can be verbal, it can be relayed by telephone call to the Deputy President. The Deputy will then relay it to the chief of staff for implementation,” said Mwaserrah.

The Auditor General had sought evidence that Ruto went for the trip after being ordered to do so by President Kenyatta. The auditors confirmed to the committee that the full cost of hiring the jet that Ruto used was Sh18.5 million.

So far, there’s no government policy on the hiring of aircraft, but according to a circular from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Deputy President is treated as a President on all foreign travel.

The regulations used to hire aircraft for government dignitaries are the same as for the procurement of any other service as prescribed in the procurement laws.-standardmedia.co.ke

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