How Much Did Kenya’s MCAs Get In Sitting Allowances In 2017?

Did MCAs get more allowances in the 2016/17 financial year than in 2015/16?

Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) play a crucial role in devolved governance, representing their electorate at the county level. They formulate laws and oversee the functions of the County Executive. As such, they are directly tasked with implementing devolved functions as was foreseen in the 2010 constitution.

However, these MCAs have attracted public attention and anger over their perceived extravagance and wastefulness in the use of public resources.

A story published on the Daily Nation in November 2017 claims that each MCA took home an average of KSh113,336 per month in sitting allowances in the 2016/17 financial year, which is a 9.7 percent increase from the Sh103,583 earned in a similar period in 2015/16.

The article cites the Controller of Budget annual county report, adding that MCAs’ allowances have been increasing even as the roles assigned to county assemblies have declined.

Another similar story by the Daily Nation also claims that the average monthly sitting allowance paid to Members of the County Assembly (MCAs) increased to an average of Sh113, 336 in the financial year ending June 2017, with Garissa topping the list of high earners.

This subsequent article cites Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo’s county budget implementation review report for 2016/17, which showed that each MCA took home an average Sh113,336 per month in sitting allowances, a 9.7 per cent increase from the Sh103,583 earned in a similar period a year earlier.

PesaCheck looked into this claim and finds it to be FALSE and we present our facts as follows.

The Office of the Controller of Budget (OCOB) is required to submit a report on the implementation of the budgets of the National and County Governments to both Houses of Parliament every four months. The report examines budget performance for the 47 County Governments for every financial quarter.

The 2016 Annual County Budget Implementation Review Report shows that the County Assemblies spent KSh2.32 billion on MCAs Sitting allowances against an approved budget allocation of KSh3.09 billion in the 2016/17 financial year. This expenditure represents 75.1 percent of the approved sitting allowance budget for MCAs, and a decline from 81.6 percent attained in 2015/16 when the Assemblies spent KSh2.82 billion.

The report also indeed shows that each Member of the County Assembly received KSh113,636 as average sitting allowance per month for 2016/17. Each MCA took home an average monthly sitting allowance of KSh103,583 in the previous financial year according to the Controller of Budget’s County budget implementation report for 2015/16.

However, if you look at the numbers for FY 2016/17, you find that the Controller of Budget made a mistake in the calculation of the average allowance per MCA.

The Controller of Budget used the budget estimates allocated for the MCAs in the 47 county assemblies in the same financial year of KSh3.09 billion, or about KSh113,636 per month, to calculate the average monthly expenditure per MCA rather the actual expenditure of KSh2.32 billion.

Table showing average sitting allowance per MCA in 2016/17 compared to 2015/16

This means that in 2016/17, the average monthly sitting allowance per MCA did not go up compared to the previous year (2015/16). Rather, it went down, with the average expenditure per MCA being KSh85,227.

What is clear is that the correct figures show that average allowances to MCAs dropped significantly. Unfortunately, the Daily Nation replicated the same error made by the Controller of Budget when reporting about the findings, which makes the claim that the average sitting allowance per MCA went up to be FALSE.

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This report was written by PesaCheck Fellow George Githinji, a researcher and blogger with interest in devolution and public finance, and edited by PesaCheck Managing Editor Eric Mugendi. The infographics are by John Githinji, a Kenyan Graphic Designer interested in Art, Animation, Information Technology and photography. The report was produced with fact-checking support from the International Budget Partnership (Kenya).

PesaCheck, co-founded by Catherine Gicheru and Justin Arenstein, is East Africa’s first fact-checking initiative. It seeks to help the public separate fact from fiction in public pronouncements about the numbers that shape our world, with a special emphasis on pronouncements about public finances that shape government’s delivery of so-called ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ or SDG public services, such as healthcare, rural development and access to water / sanitation. PesaCheck also tests the accuracy of media reportage. To find out more about the project, visit pesacheck.org.

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PesaCheck is a joint initiative of Code for Africa, through its local Code for Kenya chapter, and the International Budget Partnership (Kenya), in partnership with a coalition of local media organisations, with additional support from the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ).

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