Thursday, May 23, 2024

2015 in review: MCAs’ love for foreign trips

ISRAEL and India rank among the top favourite destinations for MCAs as they globe-trot on ‘benchmarking tours’ that consumed more than Sh2 billion in 2015.

Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda were the favoured destinations in Africa. The lucky MCAs have made more than one trip to the same country.

Among the trips that baffled many is a Sh8.5 million visit by Elgeyo Marakwet MCAs to Congo-Brazaville for the All Africa Games.

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When they returned, the MCAs defended the trip, saying they had learned a lot during their stay.

The trips are among the various ways employed by MCAs to get an extra allowance.

In Kakamega, MCAs held sessions even on Jamhuri Day and weekends to get an allowance.

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According to Auditor General Edward Ouko’s report, the MCAs gobbled up to Sh61 million in allowances from sittings, including weekends and public holidays.

The report says there was “no conceivable explanation” why they held sessions outside the regular days.

The same MCAs spent Sh13.5 million on foreign travel, including Sh11.3 million to Uganda.

There were no reasons given for the trip to Uganda, the Auditor General said.

In Bungoma, MCAs spent Sh68 million on allowances.

Their Garissa counterparts spent Sh3.4 million for travels to Nairobi, Mombasa and Naivasha.

The travels lacked supporting documents, such as work tickets, bus tickets, invitation letters and payment schedules signed by participating payees.

The Auditor notes that in some cases, the payment schedule was signed by one person.

Other committee members claimed to be attending plenary sessions or select committee meetings at Garissa and signed attendance registers.

In Homa Bay, the 40 MCAs were each paid Sh100,000 for a “mobilisation fund” to collect views on the site for ward offices.

The MCAs further received imprests of Sh50,000 monthly for ward office expenses, totalling Sh24 million in the 2013-2014 year.

There were no records maintained at the ward offices to show how the money was utilised.

In Isiolo, the MCAs budgeted Sh15.5 million for foreign travel, subsistence and transportation costs.

The MCAs subsequently travelled to Dubai and Japan.

In Dubai, they went for an Infrastructure, Tourism and Trade conference.

In Japan, the MCAs went to learn about environmental management, water conversation, sanitation and waste management.

However, documentary evidence was not made available for audit verification to confirm that the trips actually took place and were beneficial to the county assembly.

In Kajiado, the MCAs purchased personal devices, including iPads, phones, and laptops, at a cost of Sh6.2 million.

The report noted that the mobile phones and iPads exceeded the approved limits of Sh30,000 for low-value procurement procedures.

In Kisii, the MCAs were paid the maximum mileage allowance of Sh39,528 per month, regardless of the distance covered from their homes.

This led to overpayment totalling Sh12 million for six months from January to June last year.

Kisumu MCAs travelled to Austria, China, Germany, Israel, Italy, The Netherlands and Uganda, spending Sh50.5 million.

In Kwale, the MCAs spent Sh34.8 million on foreign trips, while in Makueni, the MCAs spent Sh8.4 million on trips to Israel, Rwanda and the USA.

In Vihiga, MCAs spent Sh138 million for domestic travel and subsistence. The foreign travel cost Sh29 million.

Their Wajir counterparts spent Sh5.8 million for a trip to Kigali for a workshop on women leadership training.

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