Kenya: Budget Committee rejects costly office for Kibaki

BY: Isaac Yeboah

The National Assembly's Budget Committee has rejected a proposal to purchase an office building for Mr Kibaki at a cost of Sh700m.The National Assembly's Budget Committee has rejected a proposal to purchase an office building for former president Kibaki at a cost of Sh700m.

The chairman of the Budget and Appropriations Committee of the National Assembly Mutava Musyimi directed the Treasury to go back to the drawing board and come up with other options ‘affordable’ to the taxpayer.

He questioned whether Treasury has exceeded the maximum ceiling of spending on the office set by the law.

“Are we not breaking the law?” he posed, citing the specifications in the Presidential Retirement Benefits Act which allows suitable office space for a retired president of up to 1,000 square metres.

He said Treasury must lead by example on saving funds by cutting down on unnecessary cost.

The Sh700m allocation is contained in the Supplementary Budget estimates tabled in Parliament last Tuesday.

MPs are understood to have discovered the allocation as they questioned the failure by the Treasury to allocate the Sh5.4 billion Constituency Development Fund money for the remaining part of the 2012/2013 financial year.

“What they had attempted to do, through the Supplementary Estimates which were tabled on Tuesday, is to reallocate CDF money to other activities, which included building an office (for) Sh700 million for retired President Kibaki among others,” an MP familiar with the matter said.

The allocation for the building is tucked under development expenditure for the Cabinet Office in the Supplementary Budget estimates books.

The Parliamentary Budget Office also noted the allocation of Sh700 million to the Cabinet Office to buy a building as among the salient issues in its report on the Supplementary estimates.

In the initial estimates for the 2012/2013 financial year, the Cabinet Office had asked for Sh160 million.

This figure grew to Sh860 million in the Supplementary Budget and the Sh700 million difference would be the allocation for the retired president’s office.

Headed by Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Kimemia, the Cabinet Office is charged with organising the affairs of the Cabinet such as meetings, the agenda and the implementation of its projects.

Mr Kimemia told the Nation the allocation is necessary because under the Presidential Retirement Benefits Act that Mr Kibaki assented to before his retirement, he is supposed to have an office and staff.

“He is supposed to have an office under the law. He is entitled to an office and staff, a full secretariat to manage his programmes the same way we did with former President Moi,” said Mr Kimemia on the phone.

“I thought you would say (Sh700 million) is too little. How much can you get a building for? We are set to buy him a building. We have to go to the market to advertise and we have got to pay staff and to buy him furniture because we don’t have a building yet.”

Mr Kimemia said the government has been looking for an office for the former president within Nairobi and all the available ones cost more than Sh1 billion.

Source: Daily Nation