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Raila: The Parliament Should Apologize To Kenyans For Spending Taxpayers’ Money On Irrelevant US Trip



Jubilee administration under the leadership of President Uhuru has collecting forcing and traping Kenyans to pay and submit their tax returns while the National Assembly plans and approves useless trips on coffers pockets.

On Thursday, MPs went for a one-month recess without providing a list of members and staff who traveled for a legislative conference in the US that has caused furor after Kenya sent the largest delegation of 85 people. Deputy Speaker Moses Cheboi (Kuresoi North MP) failed to provide a list of the MPs and staff who had traveled to the US despite promising to do so.

New details have emerged stating that five more leaders traveled to the US for the legislative conference, whose agenda included sampling country music and getting inspirational talks from songstress Dolly Parton, bringing the total number of MPs, senators, ward representatives and Parliament’s staff to 90.

Sources speaking to the media stated that senators Agnes Zani (ODM, nominated), Fredrick Outa (Kisumu), Meru Speaker Joseph Kaberia and MCAs Ayub Bundi and Victor Karithi were listed as additional participants from Kenya by the organizers.

Raila Odinga was the first to chastise the wastage of taxpayers’ money, scolding the MPs for encouraging a culture of waste and living large at the expense of taxpayers.

Raila while speaking at the Media Council gala night last evening, stated that Kenya sent a delegation of 90 people to the US conference, adding that it was a shame to send such a huge delegation at the taxpayers’ cost. The former prime minister who has since demanded that Parliament apologize to Kenyans for spending their tax totally meaningless US.

Raila, who seem to have credible sources said that Kenya provided the largest number of participants at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) in Nashville, Tennessee, at a time when President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration is proposing cuts on foreign travel as part of a wide range of austerity measures.

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The only other country that sent a large delegation from Africa is Nigeria, which flew 20 legislators to the US before adding two more. Indonesia sent one, Portugal sent two, and Japan had six. Neighboring Uganda deployed three, Mr. James Mukaga (principal clerk assistant), Ms. Jane Rozse Semakula Ikiror (assistant director, Parliament) and Sitnah Cherotich (assistant director, Parliament). The main host, the United States had only nine key representatives.

According to Raila, Kenyan representatives at the conference that officially started on Monday and ended on Thursday could be more than 100, as some hangers-on who accompanied the VIPs were not listed in the official conference list.

In spite of National Assembly Deputy Speaker Moses Cheboi promising to issue a communication on an apology, the MPs demanded the House breaks for recess on Thursday with no mention of the trip. The two Houses, the Senate and National Assembly, have also been on the spot to explain why they paid for some staff who virtually had no role at the conference, to attend at the expense of taxpayers.

While a few of the Kenyan delegates were invited to the conference from as early as April for being in the technical and steering committee, amongst them, senators Kihika Kimani and Mutula Kilonzo Jr, most of the members of the delegation were honorable joyriders.

The list of the travelers could have been trimmed by the offices of the Speaker, clerk, senators, and MPs with either of them settling on one or two representatives. National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi and his Senate counterpart Ken Lusaka, who led the Kenyan joyriders to the US has remained mute.

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On Thursday, the National Assembly went for a month recess without providing a list of the members and staff who traveled for the meeting. Deputy speaker Mr. Cheboi (Kuresoi North MP) failed to provide a list of the MPs and the staff who had traveled to the US, despite promising to do so.

On Wednesday,  Simba Arati had requested the speaker Mr. Cheboi to act on his request and the speaker promised to deliver the statement clarifying the matter after MPs complained, saying only about five legislators had traveled.

Speaker Muturi, who arrived in the US for the conference last Sunday, three days after most of the Kenyan participants had arrived despite the conference starting on Monday, was expected back in the country on Friday. Muturi’s whereabouts remain unknown and an aide who received his call told local media that the Speaker was still in the US.

The Commission on Revenue Allocation stipulates that the Speakers of Parliament are paid about Sh75,000 as a daily subsistence allowance for travel to the US, MPs pocket Sh65,000, and MCAs Sh42,600. From the figures, the trip could have a cost of more than 100 Million.

A round-trip business class ticket on the national carrier Kenya Airways costs about Sh587,000 from Nairobi to Nashville International Airport, and about Sh355,000 for economy class. Kenya Airways started direct flights to New York last year and the delegation has to connect from there to Nashville. An average hotel room in Nashville goes for between Sh15,000 and Sh30,000 per night.

Raila said that the US trip was evidence that these institutions have money they do not know what to do with, or they simply don’t care about the burden taxpayers are bearing.

Even though the Tennessee conference targets State legislators, legislative staff, government officials, business representatives, educators and others interested in public policy, the Kenyan delegation also included a number of personal assistants of the legislators other key speakers at the conference was American singer-songwriter Parton, presidential biographer, Pulitzer Prize winner and one of America’s most prominent historians Jon Meacham, author Wes Moore – celebrated filmmaker Evan Shapiro and CNN political contributor Vin Jones.

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The conference targeted about 5,000 delegates from across the world. It coincided with a visit by President Kenyatta to Jamaica. Another training targeting government officials from 21 Kenyan border counties has been going on in Arizona and Washington, DC.

Auditor-General’s report indicates that MCAs spent Sh162 million on foreign travel in the 2016/17 financial year. The county executive spent a wobbling Sh267 million in the same period. While expressing concern about the huge public wage bill last year, the Controller of Budget said demands for increased salaries and allowances by public officers and civil servants must be addressed, warning that the wage bill may not be sustainable in the long run if not contained.

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