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Economy

Ex-minister to be grilled over Sh7m car use

Judi Wakhungu.
Former Environment Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu. FILE PHOTO | NMG  

Kenya’s Ambassador to France Judi Wakhungu and former principal secretary James Teku will be grilled by Parliament over Sh7 million car bought for personal use during her tenure as Environment Cabinet Secretary (CS).

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) made the decision after it received information that shows the then CS was entitled by law to a Sh2 million car for personal use.

“We shall make arrangements to hear from Ms Wakhungu and Mr James Teku at a date we shall agree later,” Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi, who chairs PAC, ruled.

Water and Sanitation principal secretary Joseph Irungu was asked to explain why the ministry flouted a circular issued by then Head of Public Service Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Muthaura directing ministries to ensure that purchase of cars for personal use by entitled State officials should not exceed Sh2 million and that withholding tax be deducted by purchasing ministry and remitted to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).

Mr Irungu said the letter of appointment of Prof Wakhungu dated May 16, 2013 indicated the CS was entitled to a Sh2 million car.

He sought more time to investigate how the car was acquired at Sh7 million, which information should be tabled this morning.

“We take circulars very seriously. In fact, we don’t effect any payment that is not supported or backed by a circular.... In this particular case, I want to rely on original letters of appointment. Other than appointment letter by appointing authority, the papers we have here are photocopies which are not authenticated,” Mr Irungu said.

PAC is investigating a finding by Auditor General Edward Ouko that questioned how the ministry gave Prof Wakhungu the vehicle for personal use contrary to a presidential circular Ref No CAB/56/2A of July 7, 2011, putting a ceiling of Sh2 million.

“In the circumstances, the department spent Sh5 million irregularly and the amount has not been recovered,” Mr Ouko said.

Two weeks ago, Water and Sanitation secretary Simon Chelugui, who succeeded Prof Wakhungu, told PAC that he has written to his Foreign Affairs counterpart, Monica Juma, seeking assistance to recover Sh2,100,000 in tax refund that the ministry failed to withhold during the purchase of the fuel-guzzler in 2015.

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