MPs cancel trips as cash crunch hits Parliament

A serious cash crunch has hit Parliament, leading to occasional salary delays, cancellation of travel plans and delayed payment of mileage claims by lawmakers.

Several MPs and senators have had to cancel their pre-organised foreign trips as the Parliamentary Service Commission faces a challenge dealing with a high number of requests for solicited and luxurious international trips.

But even domestic travel has been rocked by financial challenges and unpaid allowances.

On Wednesday, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi said Parliament had blocked unnecessary foreign trips and that some committees were unable to travel, even locally, because they had exceeded their budgets.
“There is nothing unusual on this matter. Yes, there is a challenge, but it is because some committees have exceeded their travel limits for the third quarter,” said Mr Muturi.

The Speaker said he also advised that committees should consider writing their reports from Nairobi instead of retreating to resorts around the country.

The Senate was the first to exceed spending limits for the second quarter of the current budget, forcing them to make an appeal to spend from the third quarter, which has been rejected by the Treasury.

Senate committees have an allocation of about Sh140 million to fund foreign travels, while the Speaker’s office has Sh35 million to spend on foreign trips.

In the National Assembly, about Sh210 billion is set aside for foreign trips while domestic trips, from where mileage claims are drawn, Sh2.2 billion is allocated.

MPS EXPRESSED FRUSTRATIONS

The Nation spoke to several MPs and some senators who expressed frustrations over the cash crisis.

Several MPs were forced to pull out of an international event in Morocco that started early this week, after Parliament failed to buy air tickets for them.

Only Emuhaya MP Wilber Ottichilo’s travel request was approved, while five others, who were scheduled to join him, were denied air tickets.

Chairperson of the Environment and Natural Resources committee Amina Abdala and Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi were among those unable to travel to Marrakech.

But Parliamentary Service Commission secretary Jeremiah Nyegenye played down the crisis adding that normal and constitutional duties of parliament are on course.

Last month members of the Agriculture committee on a tour of various sugar factories in Western Kenya including Nzoia and Muhoroni were stranded after parliament failed to procure ground transport for them after they landed in Kisumu, forcing Nyando MP Fred Outa to hire all his cars out to rescue the team.

“We normally have budgets within which we operate. If a committee has exceeded their allocation then it is not the problem of parliament,” Mr Nyengenye said.

He added: “Parliament has separate votes. I speak for the senate. I can say clearly that functions and the mandate of parliament are going as per the constitutional mandate,” said Mr Nyengenye who is also the clerk of the senate.

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