Machakos MCAs want Agriculture Department Investigated over 65 million

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A past photo of Kangundo Central MCA Moses Mitaa before Machakos County Assembly. While tabling a report of the Agriculture Committee, MCAs called for an Investigation on the Agriculture Department over 65 million that was unaccounted for. (Photo credit- Courtesy)

Machakos MCAs want Agriculture Department CECM Urbanus Musyoka and his Chief Officer Damaris Mativo investigated over the spending of 65 million shillings. This is according to a report of the Committee on Agriculture which the Machakos Assembly voted to adopt unanimously this Tuesday.

The Committee was evaluating the Agriculture Department on its development budget performance for the quarter ending September 30th, 2019. According to the report, the 65 million amount was requisitioned and received from the National Government exchequer earmarked for Agriculture. However, the assembly committee was informed that the amount was not spent on programs under the Department.

The report was tabled before the assembly by Kangundo Central ward MCA who also chairs the Agriculture Committee. The Agriculture CECM and the Chief Officer were unable to explain how was spent the 65 million according to the report.

Disquiet about development budget implementation

The debate on the report by MCAs was broadcasted live through the assembly’s youtube channel. MCAs appeared angered by what they considered an unacceptable performance of the Agriculture department. “If you go around, you will find all the tractors which the department bought using County money are all down“, said Hon. Joshua Muli who is the Ndalani ward MCA. “This house should take this matter seriously, summon her here, to account for this money immediately“, demanded Hon. Fredrick Muthoka, the Mitaboni Ward MCA.

Noting that every home in Machakos is dependent on Agriculture, Hon. Winfred Mutua, a Nominated MCA expressed concern that the assembly was being used to rubber-stamp budget allocations to the County Executive without monitoring implementation.”The only tangible thing I have seen implemented in Machakos is the statehouse building for the Governor“, stated the Wiper nominated MCA.

Misinformation by the Agriculture department

The MCAs were surprised that the Agriculture Chief Officer appeared not to understand the priorities in the County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP). According to the report, Ms. Mativo had claimed that Cattle Dips were not provided for in the five-year plan. “The Chief Officer and the CECM need to be called before the committee of the whole house … the Waziri will need to explain how the department does not know that cattle dips are in the CIDP”, added Hon Paul Museku, Mumbuni North MCA.

The MCAs also expressed surprise that the Agriculture Chief Officer did not understand the ongoings in her department as reported to the Controller of Budgets. “The committee went ahead to request the Chief Officer to explain on unaccounted monies released from the Exchequer shown in the report of the Controller of Budget. On this matter, the Chief Officer confessed that explanations of monies shown in the report of the Controller of Budget was a hard thing to be explained by her Office.” The committee’s report read in part.

Hon. Museku who is also The Deputy Speaker of the assembly further requested that the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the EACC look into the monies allocated to the Agriculture Department. He also called upon Governor Dr. Alfred Mutua to fire the two senior-most officials in the Department.

Limited time for development before elections

The Assembly’s concerns about the performance of the agriculture department arise at a time when the MCAs are increasingly concerned about development in their wards. Last week, the assembly passed a motion to reduce the wage bill in the county’s 2020/21 budget from 49% to 35% of the county revenue as a move to comply with the public finance law. This according to the MCAs was also so as to free more funds to prioritize development projects in the County. The MCAs recently complain about the little time remaining before their term ends, yet the electorate may not understand that its the executive’s role to implement development projects and not them.

The County Government has been struggling with an unsustainable wage bill. The Governor once admitted that Ghost workers exist in the Government. Recently the Finance CECM wrote the assembly seeking approval for a short term loan facility that would pay staff salaries and COVID19 emergencies.

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