Senators have proposed capping of county allocations for construction of governors' residences at Sh45 million in efforts to tame misuse of taxpayers money at the devolved units.
Funds for building deputy governor residences and county headquarters should not exceed Sh35 million and Sh500 million respectively, they have said.
The proposals come in the wake of 2018/19 budgets in which counties have proposed to spend between Sh100 million to Sh300 million on official residences, possibly curtailing vital county project expenditures. The Senate vetoed the plans.
“We need a scale down on the amounts for the official residences so that we can operate within limits provided by the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA),” said Mandera Senator Mohamed Muhamud, who chairs the Senate Budget and Finance committee.
The committee made the proposals yesterday when it met officials from the State Department of Public Works led by PS Paul Maringa, who agreed that the official residences should not be “too lavish”.
The Salaries and Remuneration Commission in a July 2017 Gazette notice provided for housing benefits for governors, deputy governors and county assembly speakers. In the circular, the SRC advised the counties to give priority to construction of the official residences in the 2018/2019 budget.
In the recently approved budgets of the 47 counties, majority have budgeted Sh100 million upwards for building governors’ and Assembly Speakers’ official residences.
The committee noted that this had been done without the input of the Ministry of Public Works on the design of bills of quantities.
Mr Mahamud said the projected construction costs without technical input from the ministry would be open to abuse, pointing out that the counties have no capacity to absorb the millions set out in the budgets.
For example, Kirinyaga County has set aside Sh100 million for the construction of the governor’s residence, Embu has allocated Sh75 million while Isiolo put it at Sh60 million.
Kilifi County has set aside Sh214 million for the construction of a deputy governor’s official residence while it has also allocated Sh200 million for the construction of the Speaker’s residence. Nairobi has allocated Sh130 million for the Speaker’s residence, Uasin Gishu Sh80 million while Garissa has allocated Sh75 million.
The committee noted that the huge variations showed the regional governments were struggling to comply with the SRC circular mandating them to pay attention to constructing the official residences this year.