Speaker Justin Muturi issues strict foreign travel rules for MPs
‘No more Kenyan delegations’. Countries are tired of us:Parliamentary committees will be required to give the House leadership three months’ notice whenever they intend to travel abroad, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi has said.
Mr Muturi also criticised MPs for taking too long to prepare reports on matters long after getting reports from the Auditor-General and meeting the Cabinet secretaries and other government officials.
Mr Muturi said the House had introduced the measures to reduce the number of foreign trips by MPs amid concerns that they are spending too much on travel.
He said the government had also received complaints by some countries about the large number of Kenyan delegations visiting, which also strain them because they require special handling.
“When a committee travels outside at public expense, logically there should be a report. If you saw nothing, say ‘There’s no need to go there.’ So many countries are saying, ‘No more Kenyan delegations’. Countries are tired of us.
“We’ve asked them to be giving us three months’ notice because we want to know what informs the travel,” said Mr Muturi as he opened a training workshop for parliamentary reporters in Mombasa.
He singled out the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which has travelled to Canada, France, South Africa and India to investigate the procurement of election materials by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.
Mr Muturi said the Auditor-General had already conducted a special audit of the procurement of Biometric Voter Registration, Electronic Voter Identification Devices and the Results Transmission System.
USE AUDIT REPORT
The PAC, he said, ought to have used that audit rather than travel.
“We hear the Auditor-General, Edward Ouko, has already investigated this BVR issue yet this committee wants to go to Canada… Ouko’s report is out. Use it,” he said.
The Speaker said if there are gaps in the audit report that they want filled, the committee should travel with the people who have the capacity to ask the right questions.
“If you travel to India, to Bangalore, you’re not likely to get much,” said Mr Muturi.
The PAC has been under the spotlight in Parliament for delays in preparing the report on the IEBC procurement more than a year after the investigation started.
The Parliamentary Service Commission, which Mr Muturi chairs, is reported to have spent Sh557.6 million on travel in the first three months of the financial year.
The committee, chaired by Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba, has been criticised for delaying the tabling of reports on the government’s audited accounts.
REPORTS NOT YET TABLED
Two weeks ago, Mr Namwamba led his committee in declaring that the three reports would be tabled in two days, but that is yet to happen with three sitting days to the Christmas break, which starts on Friday.
Mr Muturi said there were also concerns that more than a year after the PAC ordered a special audit of the Judiciary, there is no report from the team despite their lengthy investigations.
The Speaker said other concerns are about the many cases where parliamentary committees take up matters already under investigation by specialised government agencies such as the police and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission ( EACC).
Among this is the Karen land saga, which is under investigation by the EACC and the police, with the Lands Committee also having taken it up and begun holding hearings.
“Next thing, we’re going to hear that a committee is going to investigate murder,” Mr Muturi said.
National Assembly Clerk Justin Bundi said committees take long to issue reports unless they have deadlines.