Politics and policy

Embassy properties falling apart, warns House team

Share Bookmark Print Rating
The Defence and Foreign Relations Committee chaired by Wajir West MP Adan Keynan recommended refurbishment of Kenya's high commissions and embassies across the world. Photo/PHOEBE OKALL

The Defence and Foreign Relations Committee chaired by Wajir West MP Adan Keynan recommended refurbishment of Kenya's high commissions and embassies across the world. Photo/PHOEBE OKALL  Nation Media Group

By EDWIN MUTAI

Posted  Tuesday, January 1   2013 at  18:44

In Summary

  • The Defence and Foreign Relations Committee says the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should immediately undertake a survey of all government properties abroad with a view to undertaking urgent rehabilitation of Chanceries and Embassies that are falling in disrepair.

A parliamentary committee has asked the government to put on hold further disposal of properties belonging to Kenyan missions until an audit is completed.

The Defence and Foreign Relations Committee says the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should immediately undertake a survey of all government properties abroad with a view to undertaking urgent rehabilitation of Chanceries and Embassies that are falling in disrepair.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs should urgently rehabilitate and repair properties belonging to missions abroad that have been run down,” the report tabled in Parliament two weeks ago said.

In the report arising from its inspection of 14 foreign missions, the committee chaired by Wajir West MP Adan Keynan recommended refurbishment. Kenya has 52 high commissions and embassies across the world.

The committee inspected embassies in Vienna, Austria, Geneva, Switzerland and The Hague in August 2011. It observed that various mission properties in The Hague had been run down and were in a “state of disrepair.”

“While the Chancery is in good condition, the third floor of the Counsellor’s residence and the Immigration Attaché’s residence require reconstruction due to disrepair,” observed the committee.

The fact-finding mission said the property occupied by the immigration attaché was in poor state with leaking roof and rusty pipes.

“The funds allocated for repair and maintenance of the houses was never utilised as proposed but were returned to the ministry on grounds that they were insufficient,” the committee said.

In the 2011/12 financial year, the Treasury allocated the ministry Sh8.3 billon for recurrent expenditure and Sh870 million for development. During the financial year, the mission received a total of Sh108 million for general expenditure out of which Sh15 million was earmarked for refurbishment of buildings.
The Sh15 million was returned to the Treasury “due to procurement challenges.”

The mission has, however, been allocated Sh19.5 million for refurbishment of the buildings on the development vote this financial year.

The committee found that the Kenyan mission in Geneva leased the ambassador’s residence for 18 months without anyone occupying it, leading to a loss of Sh33.7 million in rent.

The committee found out that the mission’s senior officers, First Secretary, First Secretary-Trade and First Secretary-Counsellor were accommodated for up to six months in expensive hotels where payment was based on an exorbitant daily rate.

The committee has called for immediate removal of Kenya Ambassador and Permanent Representative to UN in Geneva Dr Tom Mboya on grounds of “gross misconduct and abuse of power.”

The mission, the committee found, had a reputation of dishonouring its financial obligations and late payment of rent, leading to its failure to find residential leases for the envoys.

The mission has not received any funds for development in the past two financial years but is projected to receive Sh400 million in the 2013/14 Budget.