Economy

Auditor unearths MPs travel allowance theft

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Parliament buildings. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) is on the spot over Sh16.6 million paid to three MPs irregularly.

The three lawmakers blew out Sh16.6 million in triple payments for domestic travel, mileage claims and overseas travel, all done in the same day.

The three MPs were paid Sh11,392,479 in domestic travel and subsistence in respect of mileage claims.

“However, no explanation was provided as to why three Members were paid twice or thrice for the same date of travel,” Nancy Gathungu, the Auditor-General said in a report to Parliament.

Ms Gathungu said further examination of payments for claims by MPs for mileage and domestic subsistence facilitation revealed instances where some legislators were paid domestic subsistence facilitation and mileage claims amounting to Sh5,219,357 on days when they were outside the country and already receiving foreign subsistence allowances.

“In the circumstances, the propriety of the expenditure of Sh11,392,479 and Sh5,219,358 included under domestic travel and subsistence in the statement of receipts and payments for the year ended June 30, 2020 could not be determined,” Ms Gathungu said.

The Treasury has allocated Parliament Sh37.7 billion in the current financial year.

MPs are ordinarily reimbursed weekly mileage of about Sh187 per kilometre for a return trip to their constituencies. Those travelling long distance like Mandera, Lamu, Garissa, Wajir, and Turkana pocket more than Sh1 million monthly.

Mileage reimbursement is usually claimed Monday to Friday.

MPs also draw Sh5,000 per committee sitting, with the chair taking home Sh10,000. Vice chairpersons draw Sh7,500.

Other perks include domestic subsistence (Sh19,000), house allowance (Sh250,000), medical (Sh10 million), among others.

In a qualified audit opinion for the year ended June 30, 2020, Ms Gathungu said the PSC spent Sh303,881,415,626 in respect of the use of goods and services.

“As disclosed under Note 4 to the financial statements, the expenditure includes an amount of Sh1,395,384,441 relating to domestic travel and subsistence out of which Sh11,392,479 was paid to the members in respect of mileage claims.

“However, no explanation was provided as to why three members were paid twice or thrice for the same date of travel,” she said.

She said examination of payments for claims by members for mileage and domestic subsistence facilitation revealed instances where some were paid on days when they were outside the country and already receiving foreign subsistence allowances.

“The irregular payments had not been recovered by the time of the audit in December, 2020.

“In the circumstances, the propriety of the expenditure of Sh11,392,479 and Sh5,219,358 included under domestic travel and subsistence in the statement of receipts and payments for the year ended 30 June, 2020 could not be determined,” Ms Gathungu said.