Senate fumes over Sh780,000 Waiguru used for entertainment to launch Kerugoya car park

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru before the Senate Public Accounts Committee in Nairobi on November 28, 2023.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The construction of the Kerugoya car park, roads, footpaths and associated works were done by the national government through the Kenya Urban Support Programme (KUSP). 
  • Waiguru defended the expenditure, saying the project was funded by a conditional grant from the World Bank with the participation of the county government.

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru was at pains to explain how the county government spent close to Sh1 million on entertainment during the launch of the Kerugoya car park project.

Appearing before a Senate oversight committee on Tuesday, the governor added insult to injury after saying the Sh781,000 spent on entertainment services was used to transport people to the launch.

The damning revelations came during the Senate's Public Accounts Committee meeting when it was considering a report by Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu for the financial year ending June 2021. 

According to the report, Sh781,000 was paid to a vendor for providing entertainment services during the official launch of Kerugoya Town car park.

Ms Gathungu said the construction of the Kerugoya car park, roads, footpaths and associated works were done by the national government through the Kenya Urban Support Programme (KUSP) and therefore the county executive should not have incurred any unbudgeted expenditure.

Appearing before the committee, Ms Waiguru defended the expenditure, saying the project was funded by a conditional grant from the World Bank with the participation of the county government. 

As a flagship project of the county, the governor said her administration had a legitimate mandate to launch the project and the amount used was properly budgeted for under the county government's services budget line for publicity, awareness and promotion.

However, the committee chairperson, Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang', asked the governor to provide a breakdown of how the money was spent on entertainment services.

The auditors also said they expected the county government to provide an explanation and breakdown of the total expenditure, procurement processes and a budget line.

"We want to know exactly how the Sh781,000 was used. Did you pay that money to an entertainer? So we want to know who this entertainer is who is charging Sh781,000 for a day," said Mr Kajwang'. 

However, the second-term governor maintained that the money was not spent on entertainment but on providing tents, chairs, sound system and refreshments during the event.

"Apart from the tents, we also provided transport for people to attend the event. There was no entertainment. We don't have entertainment during the official launch. We just have women who come to sing and we don't pay them," she said.

However, the committee questioned whether what the women were doing was not entertainment, to which she replied that they were just welcoming people, to laughter in the room.

Ms Waiguru then asked for the word entertainment to be corrected, saying the question was not about the amount but why they were spending money on a national government project. 

Devolution 

But Mr Kajwang' hit back: "That is your perspective. For us, what stands out is the Sh781,000 spent on entertainment. These are the things that make devolution look bad."

Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna challenged the governor to point to the law that requires her to commission projects after they are completed.

"There is no legal mandate that requires you to launch a road. I have never seen the need to launch a project after it is completed. There is no legal need or mandate to do that and you cannot justify it with Sh781,000. If it was Sh100,000, we would have let it go, but this is close to a million," said Mr Sifuna.

The committee chairman also challenged the governor to disprove the Auditor-General's claim that the expenditure was on entertainment services by providing evidence.

"We still don't have any visibility. No annexes, just stories. We need you to break down the expenditure," said the legislator. 

Public funds

"In the absence of the evidence, we will agree with the auditor-general that in the circumstances, the Sh781,000 was not a proper charge on public funds unless you are able to show the breakdown in seven days," he added.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei also questioned why the county government had not attached any document to justify the expenditure.

"What is a budgeted item and where is the proof? What was it all about to justify the use of this kind of money to see the reality of the use of the money?" he asked.