Interestingly, Dr Patrick Mutai, the assembly speaker sanctioned the training to be conducted at Weston hotel in Nairobi, which is owned by the President in what will cost more than Sh2.1 million in allowances to the MCAs.
On Tuesday, Dr Mutai approved a memo from the embattled Majority leader Paul Chirchir requesting for facilitation of the 37 MCAs in the house.
“In reference to standing order No.177, I hereby request for facilitation of all members of the county assembly to Nairobi (Weston hotel) from 15th November 22 to 20th November 22. The purpose of the meeting is to conduct a pre-vetting of County Chief Officers nominees” Mr Chirchir stated in the memo.
Dr Mutai, a former County Executive Committee (CEC) in charge of Finance at the Kericho County Assembly marked the document for the house’s clerk as “approved” and signed it on November 15 (Tuesday).
The same day the request was approved is when the MCAs were supposed to check in at Weston hotel, in what has kicked up a storm over austerity measures put in place by Dr Ruto’s administration over the poor state of the economy.
Dr Ruto directed shortly after taking over from former President Uhuru that the government would save Sh300 billion from cost cutting measures to be applied by all government departments.
The Nation has established that an MCA is entitled to Sh14,000 night out, in Nairobi while the Speaker draws Sh16,800. The same amount applies per day when they travel to Naivasha, Kisumu and Mombasa.
In effect, the MCAs would draw Sh2.072 million from the assembly coffers with an additional Sh67,200 by the speaker for the four nights they will spend in Nairobi in what translates to Sh2,139,200.
That excludes the allowances the committee clerks, drivers, and other cadre of county assembly employees would be paid by the assembly for accompanying the MCAs to Nairobi for the training.
Still, the money to be paid to facilitators of the training, the cost of hiring a hall at the premier hotel, food, drinks and fuel for motor vehicles has not been factored into the tabulated amount in this article.
“As a matter of fact, majority of the MCAs who were elected or nominated to the assembly are serving their first term in office and are yet to learn the ropes of vetting the nominees for the various positions forwarded to the house by the executive arm of government,” Mr Chirchir told the Nation on Wednesday on telephone.
Mr Chirchir, who is the Kapsoit MCA, said the lack of knowledge on the various issues came to fore during the recent vetting of the CECs, and which the training that has been organized seeks to cure.
But the matter has caused a major political uproar in the region and reverberates nationally in what shows the lengths the MCAs go to get allowances from the assembly, in what has no direct bearing on development.
“Why would the MCAs require training on how to vet the Chief Officers when they are fresh from subjecting the nominees for the County Executive Committee (CEC) members through the same process?” wondered Mr Peter Mutai, a political analyst.
Ms Irene Kibet said the trip was unnecessary and a waste of taxpayers' money as the same could be undertaken at a hotel in Kericho or a government facility within the county.
“The MCAs should be made to refund the cost of the trip for wasting taxpayers' money at a time the country is faced with hard economic times. Of what economic value is the trip, if it is not only to enrich the politicians who will draw a night out allowance?” Ms Kibet wondered.
Dr Mutai was not immediately available for a comment on this story as his phone went unanswered and was yet to respond to text messages by press time.
This comes in the backdrop of a leadership row in the assembly pitting Mr Chirchir and Londiani ward MCA Vincent Korir who was ousted last week.
Mr Korir and Mr Chirchir are laying claim to the Majority leader’s position even after United Democratic Alliance (UDA) Secretary General Ms Veronica Maina said the changes in the house leadership effected on Thursday had not been sanctioned by the party.
Dr Ruto’s administration, through the Cabinet Secretary for Treasury Njuguna Ndung’u, has cut the budgets on foreign travel, training, purchases of furniture, and motor vehicles, domestic travel, advertising, printing, hospitality and motor vehicles rental.
After being sworn in on September 13, Dr Ruto said he would cut the recurrent expenditure factored into the current budget so as to “bring economy back to sanity” and ensure “we are living within our means”.
The President has also directed counties to cut unnecessary spending to reflect the current economic situation in the country. By Vitalis Kimutai, NMG