Spy agency retains veil of secrecy on its spending plan

Expenditure estimates that the Treasury submitted to Parliament last Thursday shows that NIS has been allocated Sh13.98 billion for the next financial year.
Expenditure estimates that the Treasury submitted to Parliament last Thursday shows that NIS has been allocated Sh13.98 billion for the next financial year. FILE  NATION MEDIA GROUP

The spy agency, the National Intelligence Service, will once again spend billions of shillings without telling the taxpayer, even in the broadest terms possible, how the money will be used.

Expenditure estimates that the Treasury submitted to Parliament last Thursday shows that the agency, whose budget doubled in the past five years, has been allocated Sh13.98 billion for the next financial year, but there is no indication as to what portion of the money will go to recurrent or development activities.

Next year’s allocation is Sh500 million more than the current year’s. The agency has not disaggregated its budget, choosing instead to paste the same line throughout its one-and-a-half page presentation to Parliament.

There is no indication of the number of employees nor the purpose for the allocations, making it difficult to establish how much the spies are paid or the bureaucratic and asset structure of the agency.

“In 2013/14 Financial Year, the National Intelligence Service seeks to provide actionable intelligence that adds value to decision making by the government,” says the introduction to the agency’s budget.

Last year, an attempt by the parliamentary committee on defence and foreign relations, then chaired by Adan Keynan, to lift the veil of secrecy over the agency’s spending came a cropper after its director-general, Michael Gichangi, declined to appear before the committee.

Mr Keynan’s committee reacted to the snub by slashing and reallocating Sh2.7 billion of the spy agent’s budget to other government functions, but the Budget committee reinstated the cash, saying the said functions had enough allocations.

The NIS’s budget is expected to fall by Sh145 million in the 2014/2015 financial year —probably reflecting a decline in threat to national security or completion of capital investment—but rise to Sh14.3 million the next year.

The paper names the single programme financed as “maintain and safeguarding of national security”. Programme outcome is tagged “ensuring continued sovereignty and integrity of the nation is maintained” stating the output as “intelligence reports”.

In the medium term, performance targets and indicators are given as “actionable reports”. It will be interesting to see whether Mr Gichangi shows up to defend his budget in Parliament either in camera or in public where a US Congress-style interrogation would happen.

Most of the cash to constitutional commissions and agencies goes to the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), the teachers’ employer, which gets 82 per cent of the budget or Sh143.1 billion.

Out of this 99.6 per cent (Sh142.5 billion) will cover salaries and allowances of the estimated 250,000 teachers, according to the Budget estimates released last week.

The allocation, if approved by Parliament, will represent a 4.4 per cent increase over the Sh137 billion that was allocated to the teachers’ employer in the current financial year.

“We are yet to fully analyse these figures but at a cursory glance, the Sh6 billion that has been added to this year’s TSC allocation will definitely not be adequate to finance promotions, allowances and recruitment of new teachers,” said Wilson Sosion, the chairman of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut).

The union has been piling pressure on the Treasury to set aside Sh15.4 billion to employ some 40,000 teachers for primary schools and Sh6.5 billion to hire 25,000 others for early childhood education.

They have also been pushing for housing allowance for teachers at 50 per cent of basic minimum salary, medical allowance at 20 per cent and commuter allowance of 10 per cent.

Others are hardship allowance of 30 per cent of basic salary as well as a further 10 per cent special allowance for teachers in special needs education.

The Treasury has sought to retain allocation to Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) at Sh1.3 billion, put allocation to the National Police Service Commission at Sh244 million.

There is, however, a huge discrepancy in the DPP’s budget. One section of the budget document shows that it has been allocated Sh2.2 billion while a breakdown of the figures indicates that it will get only Sh1.26 billion.

Some of the agencies have protested the low level of funding with EACC saying it only managed to investigate 180 cases of corruption in the current financial year which ends next month. 

Corruption, insecurity and inability of the DPP’s office to put together water-tight cases are some of the factors that have contributed to poor perception of Kenya as an investment destination.

“Crime is becoming more sophisticated and we have to build capacity both in terms of expertise and number of personnel,” DPP Keriako Tobiko told the Business Daily in an earlier interview.

Others allocated cash are Independent Policing Oversight Authority (Sh153.8 million), the National Gender and Equality Commission (Sh210 million), the Commission on Administration of Justice (Sh298 million), Controller of Budget (Sh422.8 million), Auditor-General (Sh500 million) and the Commission for Implementation of the Constitution (Sh399.4 million).

The Registrar of Political Parties (RPP), the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and Witness Protection Agency have been allocated Sh344.7 million, Sh3.8 billion and Sh196.8 million respectively.

The financing of RPP and IEBC are specifically set to come under the spotlight as disputes arise among members of various political coalitions in the National Assembly and Senate as well as during by-elections that may result from petitions in courts.

The Commission on Revenue Allocation will have to do with Sh321.4 million in the next financial year, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights Sh253.2 million, the Public Service Commission Sh770.6 million and Salaries and Remuneration Commission Sh375.4 million.