The Administration and National Security Committee then summoned the accounting officer in Deputy President William Ruto’s office to explain.
A parliamentary committee has questioned the payment of Sh1 billion for an empty plot next to the Office of the Deputy President.
The matter arose during scrutiny of the Presidency budget for the next financial year. The query was raised by Homa Bay Town Member of Parliament Peter Kaluma.
“I am a lawyer. I just transacted Kenya Cinema at Sh400 million,” said Mr Kaluma. “What we have behind the Deputy President’s office is just a small field. It shouldn’t cost that much.”
State House Administration Secretary John Makumi said the plot had to be compulsorily acquired for security reasons. He said it was evaluated and its acquisition published in the TheKenya Gazette.
Committee chairman Asman Kamama said the officer would be asked to explain the genesis of the decision, including how the value was arrived at.
Mr Makumi asked the committee to get more information from the National Land Commission (NLC) as it handled the gazettement and compulsory acquisition of the plot.
Harambee House Annex, which houses the DP’s office, was initially Shell & BP House. It was acquired at Sh700 million to house the erstwhile Office of the Prime Minister.
Committee members also asked officers from the Presidency to submit Bills of Quantities for construction and refurbishment of buildings.
At Kakamega State Lodge, for example, refurbishment of a dais and construction of a septic tank is budgeted to cost Sh5 million.
“That is six big classrooms in Homa Bay Town Constituency,” remarked Mr Kaluma.
Mr Makumi said the refurbishment was not arbitrary and budgets are based on BQs and elaborate plans.
He confirmed that the government paid Sh250 million for the building bought in Nyari for retired President Mwai Kibaki’s office. He confirmed that it is the property of the State.
The officer was not clear on whether the Kabarnet Gardens office and home of retired President Daniel arap Moi is the property of the State.
Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi said the allocation of Sh9 billion to the Presidency made it “a very rich department”.
But Mr Makumi said the budget of the Presidency had grown because the office now houses State House, the DP, Cabinet Affairs and several state agencies.