A fresh showdown looms between the national government and the Council of Governors (COG) over the state’s move to introduce austerity measures aimed at cutting down on unnecessary expenditure including non-essential foreign travel.
Before the effecting of the 8% tax on petroleum products, President Uhuru Kenyatta on September 14, hard pressed by Kenyans on why he opted to impose more taxes on Kenyans announced that the government will be introducing austerity measures as the government upped its fiscal consolidation.
President Kenyatta said that the move was necessitated by the need to support the big government put in place by the 2010 Constitution as well as finance major infrastructure projects.
Consequently, on October 11 Devolution Ministry Principal Secretary Charles Sunkuli rubbed the governors the wrong way after issuing a directive to all County Assemblies and County Executive Committees listing a raft of austerity measures needed to cut down on the non-essential spending the president was talking about.
PS Sunkuli wrote to all county secretaries and clerks of country assemblies giving new directives on how to cut foreign travel costs.
Before travelling to foreign countries for seminars, tours and conferences, County Executive Committee members (CECs) and Members of County Assembly (MCAs) will now be required to;
• Write to the Devolution Ministry explaining how the travel will benefit the county.
• Furnish the ministry with minutes of a county assembly session that approved the foreign travel.
• The CECs and MCAs are now prohibited from attending foreign seminars and conferences where they are required to pay participation fees unless the seminars and conferences are recognised by international bodies.
• They must have invitation letters beforehand which must be stamped and approved by the county secretary or county assembly clerk.
• They must in a letter to the ministry, give a breakdown on travel costs how much they plan to spend during the travel period including the justification.
• They must explain where the foreign travel was budgeted for in the county plan.
• Upon coming back, the travelling team must write a report to the ministry detailing what they learnt and how it will be implemented for the good of the county.
In a quick rejoinder, the COG in a statement signed by Chairperson Josphat Nanok scoffed at the directive saying that counties are semi-autonomous governments which the national government has no business micro-managing.
“County budgets are approved by the county assembly and therefore the ministry has no business making inquiries on our travel plans expenditure. The PS must immediately withdraw the directive,” said Nanok in a letter addressed to Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua and Foreign Affairs PS Macharia Kamau.