Senate to review costs of county speakers’ residences

Parliament buildings in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Parliament buildings in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Senate is set to review the limits of taxpayers’ money to be spent on constructing official residences for county speakers.

Chairman of Senate Public Accounts Committee Moses Kajwang’ said the limits of expenditure of public funds in building the houses as set by the Commission on Revenue Allocation and Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) should be reviewed.

“SRC recommended that county assemblies should construct houses for speakers but failed to give guidelines on specifications and cost,” Senator Kajwang’ said. 

He said “a colossal amount cannot be sunk into the comfort of an individual”.

“It is immoral, insensitive and ridiculous,” he said.

“As senators, we have agreed that we will quash this insanity promoted by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.”

County Assemblies resorted to the use of figures by the Ministry of Infrastructure in 2011, that put the cost of constructing a speaker’s house at Sh174 million and that of the governor at Sh267million. 

“We will work with all stakeholders to develop better guidelines for housing of speakers,” said Mr Kajwang’.

The matter, he said, would form the agenda of the legislative summit for speakers, MCAs and senators to be held in Mombasa next week. 

The Senate’s move comes in the wake of queries raised by residents of Homa Bay on the priorities of their county assembly after it announced a plan to construct a Sh150 million residence for the speaker.

The Homa Bay County Assembly placed an advert on Monday in two dailies, seeking land for the construction of the house.

Assembly speakers have defended the move, saying it is a requirement by the SRC for all county assembly speakers to have official residence built for them by 30 June 2019.

“The government wants all speakers’ residences built because they want to cut the costs of paying rents. This is not our own creation,” said Homa Bay County Assembly Speaker Elizabeth Ayoo.

A letter by the SRC Chairperson Sarah Serem sent to Chairperson of the County Assembly Forum Johnson Osoi, asked the county governments to prioritise construction of official residences for the county assembly speakers. The Commission on Revenue Allocation through its circular No. 5 of 2015, advised counties to focus on development and to make budgetary provisions for non-core projects over a period of 5-10 years.