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Economy

MPs affirm Huduma card cash cut

Huduma Centre
Residents seek services at a Huduma Centre in Mombasa. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NMG 

Members of Parliament have approved a cut in the budget for the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS), and instead called for a special audit of the programme.

This has, however, raised concerns that taxpayers have not received value for their money.

The Budget and Appropriations Committee cut Sh800 million from NIIMS budget in the year to next June, in effect backing the Treasury which in its supplementary budget proposal has slashed the allocation by Sh1 billion.

In allocating just Sh200 million to the programme, the committee has left the issuance of Huduma cards in the balance.

The Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wah-chaired committee further raised concerns on wastage of taxpayers’ money and ordered an audit of the Sh5.7 billion spent so far.

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“The Office of the Auditor- General (should) carry out a special forensic audit of the National Integrated Identity Management Systems to establish the value for money and submit a report to the National Assembly by end of March 2020,” the committee said in the report.

Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho last week warned that printing of the cards was at stake unless MPs reinstated the Sh1 billion cut by the Treasury in the mini-budget proposals.

The State said the fresh registration would weed out criminal elements who have been fraudulently registered besides improving service delivery to citizens.

The cuts are part of the Sh29.4 billion in State spending in the year to June, 2020 with MPs saying that budget has for years been based on unrealistic revenue projections and not on the economic outlook.

Under NIIMS, the State collected and was to combine various identity document numbers, including the national ID, passport, driver’s licence, National Social Security Fund and the National Hospital Insurance Fund numbers of all Kenyans.

Also required were details like the place of birth, phone number, e-mail address, physical and permanent residence and marital status.

Although Kenyans were free to opt out of the registration, there is a possibility that those who did could be denied government services once the system is rolled out.

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