Gachagua’s Sh1.1bn demand for cars, drinks and food rejected
Wednesday March 08 2023
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua’s demands for an extra Sh1.1 billion for cars, travel and refreshments were rejected in September amid the call for austerity measures.
Mr Gachagua, through the State House, had requested an additional Sh1.6 billion on September 7 — two days after the Supreme Court unanimously upheld William Ruto’s presidential win.
The embattled former Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani, who served in the early days of Ruto’s administration rejected the request and provided an extra Sh500 million citing a lack of cash.
Mr Gachagua needed Sh300 million to purchase a fleet of cars, Sh330 million for hospitality (food, drinks and accommodation), Sh50 million (office furniture), Sh110 million (fuel and car maintenance) and Sh550 million for other undisclosed expenses.
Read: President Ruto cuts current budget spending by Sh14bn
The request of extra millions for non-core expenditure emerged at a time when Mr Gachagua had asked Kenyans to tighten their belts for hard economic times after inheriting what he claimed to be a broke government.
It also emerged in a period when President Ruto had announced cuts to spending to rein in the fiscal deficit.
Recurrent expenditure cuts targeted civil servant perks, and overseas trips by state officials – which often involve lavish travel allowances and the use of State vehicles.
The additional cash for Mr Gachagua was also going to fund the activities of the DP’s spouse, according to a requisition letter sent to Mr Yatani by the then Comptroller of State House Kinuthia Mbugua.
Mr Mbugua noted that the Deputy President’s office needed the additional funds following his increased activities.
“The Office of the Deputy President under the Executive Office of the President Vote 1100 has continued to experience increased activities during the FY 2023,” he said.
“This is coupled with the need to facilitate activities and programmes for the Office of the Spouse of the Deputy President.”
The additional hundreds of millions for Mr Gachagua were termed as emergencies and the State House wanted the cash provided without immediate approval from MPs.
Article 223 of the Constitution allows the Treasury to spend on emergencies without the approval of the Parliament. The law demands that the Treasury table a mini-budget two months after withdrawing funds from the Consolidated Fund without the approval of MPs.
Recent revelations have shown that the period just before and after the elections was characterised by what would appear like the scramble for transition billions with both the current and former regimes accusing each other of wastage and theft around this time.
Mr Gachagua — pointing to some payments amounting to Sh16 billion that were made days before the elections last year — has accused the previous administration of stealing this money.
On Monday, former President Uhuru Kenyatta was accused of offering a 26-minute ultimatum for the Controller of Budget to release Sh10 billion without MPs’ approval, just four days before the last General Election.
The revelations are contained in a tense WhatsApp conversation between the Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o and the immediate former Treasury minister.
Mr Yatani sent a WhatsApp message to Dr Nyakang’o threatening that the former Head of State would call the Controller of Budget if the billions were not released by the close of business on August 4, 2022.
But in a scathing statement released on Wednesday, Mr Yatani has fought back against her claims, terming them as “false, malicious and actionable in law”.
“This depiction is libellous and defamatory to my character and professional service to the public in many capacities. I have instructed my lawyers to study her utterances and advise on a lawsuit against her person,” he said.
The former CS says Article 223 of the Constitution allowed him as Treasury CS to, in certain circumstances, authorise expenditures that had not been appropriated by Parliament and that allegations he pressured are therefore “calculated malice”.
Read: Ruto, Gachagua offices burst annual budget in 7 months
He says the Treasury recently used the same constitutional provision to approve spending of Sh127.5 billion for the national government through the supplementary budget and that the same was approved by Ms Nyakang’o.
“What makes this approval of Sh15 billion ‘sneaky’ and that of the Sh127.5 billion before Parliament and mostly under the current government legitimate? Yet they both used the same constitutional path,” wondered Mr Yatani while implying that her narrative is politically motivated.
If Mr Gachagua’s requisition would have been approved fully, the budget for the DP in the current financial year ending June would have jumped to Sh3.3 billion from the Sh1.7 billion that had been approved by the previous administration.
“In view of the justification provided, and given the tight fiscal constraint underpinning the FY2022/23, the National Treasury has considered and approved additional funding of Sh500 million under Article 223 of the Constitution, to facilitate the Executive Office of the President implement the urgent planned activities,” said Mr Yatani.
But in the latest mini-budget, the MPs awarded Mr Gachagua’s office an additional Sh400 million.