MPs query Sh7.9b for State House salaries, repairs to several lodges

Friday, May 17th, 2024 04:26 | By
The State House in Nairobi.
The State House in Nairobi. PHOTO/Print

Lawmakers sought to know why the Office of the President needs Sh7.9 billion for salaries and supplementary services in the 2024/2025 financial year at a time the government is struggling to pay its bills.

Members of the National Assembly’s Committee on Administration and Internal Security, also questioned the spending of billions of shillings on renovating State House and state lodges.

Documents tabled before MPs revealed that in the next three years the projects will have gobbled Sh11.5 billion. The projects began in July 2015 and are expected to be completed by June 30, 2027.

The documents show that this financial year, State House needs Sh1.55 billion to finish renovations in Nairobi, Eldoret, Mombasa, Kakamega, Kisii and Mtito Andei.

As of March 31 this year, the total outstanding costs stood at Sh8.3 billion, with the actual cumulative costs being Sh 3.2 billion. Of the Sh1.55 billion required for this financial year, refurbishing the State House complex in Nairobi will require Sh250 million; buildings at the Eldoret state lodge (Sh500 million); Sagana state lodge (Sh35 million); repairing a fence around the main house at the Mombasa State House (Sh302 million); buildings at the Nakuru State House (Sh200 million); and buildings at the Kisumu state lodge (Sh 14.9 million).

Others are purchasing a specialized plant, equipment and machinery (Sh50 million); ICT networking and communications equipment (Sh100 million); construction and other civil works (Sh500 million); refurbishing buildings at the Kakakamga state lodge (Sh15 million); a mechanical garage (Sh4.8 million), repairing the Kisii state lodge (Sh19 million); and refurbishing the Mtito Andei state lodge (Sh5 million).

Lawmakers, led by committee chairperson Gabriel Tongoyo, urged State House officials to be prudent in how they spend money as the budgets of other departments had been cut but that of State House was increased. They advised State House to cancel some of the projects and cede the saved money to other departments whose budgets, including payment of salaries, had been cut.

Homa Bay Town MP Peter Kalauma demanded to know why every year, State House has a budget for renovations costing billions of shillings.

He said: “You cannot be renovating [a house] every year, especially knowing the state the economy is in. Please tell this committee which projects are not necessary, which ones can wait so that we can come to the rescue of the other agencies who are in limbo.”

Kaluma also questioned the Sh8 billion in recurrent expenditure, saying this money was enough to fund the entire Judiciary.

He said: The Sh8 billion is for the entire Judiciary, its judges, their salaries, etc. What can we do to help the president have more money for other offices and facilities other than these payees? Is there something we can do in helping the country reduce expenditure?”

Nakuru Woman Representative Liza Chelule said: “If you feel that there is something you can release and opt to give to other [departments], please do that.”

State House should be mindful of other departments that have appeared before them and complained about budget cuts, said Kisumu West MP Rosa Buyu.

She said: “This department must be very lucky that you actually got an increment in the estimates yet other departments have come here crying. My advice to you is that it would be good for you to do with what you got because I believe it is sufficient.”

State House comptroller Katoo Ole Metito had tabled documents showing that the department had received an increase of Sh262.2 million. State House had been allocated Sh9.2 billion in the Budget Policy Statement, but in the revised estimates, it received Sh9.5 billion for both development and recurrent expenditure.

Most of the budget for State House, Metito told lawmakers, was spent on hospitality because  President William Ruto has been hosting delegations and at any particular time, he has about ten heads of state or government visiting.

Said Metito: “Our budget is about the recurrent vote. Most of our budget goes to hospitality. You will agree that you have noted there have been a number of delegations his excellency the president had been hosting from either the regional or continental front. Even now as we speak, he is hosting the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.”

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