Uhuru's Ksh4.5 B Gift to MCAs Faces Hurdles

  • a
    President Uhuru Kenyatta speaks at the National Cargo Deconsolidation Centre, Nairobi on Wednesday, February 10, 2021
  • Members of County Assemblies (MCAs) will have to wait longer for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Ksh4.5 billion car grant promise.

    This is after the Controller of Budget (COB) Margaret Nyakang'o wrote a letter to the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) CEO Anne Gitau and sought to stop the implementation of the car grant before a few fundamental issues were resolved.

    In the letter, Nyakang'o stated that most counties budgeted for a car loan facility and not a grant. She highlighted that this is implemented through legislation that is enacted to create a revolving fund.

    The hurdle to this, she pointed out, is that these legislation do not provide for the issuance of a car grant. Further, she stated that most counties had merged the car loan facility into the revolving fund. 

    Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang'o speaking during a past event.
    Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang'o speaking during a past event.

    "Some counties are operating one mortgage and car loan fund for the staff and members of the county assembly. It should be noted that in some counties, the kitty is not fully funded,” Nyakang'o stated.

    The COB noted that she had divided the request from county governments to release funds into two categories namely; an advisory on how to implement the conversion of the car grant loan facility into a grant and the withdrawals from the County Revenue Fund (CRF) to finance the same.

    "The office of the CoB has received numerous requests from county governments on implementation of the review of the car loan benefit to a transport facilitation benefit in form of a car grant for speakers and MCAs,” she stated.

    Nyakang'o, in her letter, sought clarification on how to convert the car loan facility into a car grant benefit with the SRC considering all issues raised as well as how to treat the interest so far repaid by the beneficiaries.

    The office of the CoB is an independent office, formed under Article 228 of The Constitution of Kenya, whose core function is to oversee the implementation of the national and county government budgets. Further, the office exercises the oversight by authorizing withdrawals from public funds.

    The SRC chairperson Lyn Mengich, in early February, had approved the MCAs car grant in which Uhuru had promised MCAs a Ksh2 million car grant each.

    This amounted to Ksh4.5 billion, a hefty amount that most considered as exorbitant owing to the struggling economy. In the letter, Mengich reviewed car loan benefits to a transport facilitation benefit in form of a car grant.

    "Conversion of the car loan facility to a car grant will be undertaken within the available car loan facility funds of Ksh4.5 billion and will not affect the expenditure ceiling," Mengich stated

    She further noted that the grant was payable to the current speakers and members of the county assembly. The news of the car grant approval elicited mixed reactions with some questioning the essence of approving the amount at a time when the country is coping with a global pandemic.

    Further, other critics and politicians alleged that the car grant was being used as a bribe to woo the MCAs into passing the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

    Currently, the BBI bill has passed in 11 counties among them; Nairobi, Vihiga, Laikipia, Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Busia, West Pokot, Trans Nzoia, Kajiado, and Kisii. Baringo County Assembly is the only county that has voted to oppose the bill.

    President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga at KICC in Nairobi for the National launch of BBI signatures collection exercise. November 25, 2020.