Keeping Your Business in Mind

Sakaja, Nairobi legislators lock horns over collection of City’s billions

By Antynet Ford

A section of Nairobi City County members of the County Assembly want a previous system (Jambo Pay) to be introduced for the revenue collection of the City, The Informer Media Group can authoritatively reveal.

With a battle looming to disrupt the service delivery to Nairobians the governor Sakaja wants the current system to remain in place while some of the ward reps want NRS scrapped.

The county plans to contract Safaricom to carry out the task as a section of MCAs push for the reintroduction of the system which was used during the tenure of governor Kidero as there could be a hidden hand in the revenue collection task of the city.

During the public hearing by the ad hoc committee, Safaricom through its consultant Omingo Magara stated if the county agrees to contract them, they would revolutionize revenue collection at City Hall.

“Our systems can map every taxpayer in the county and make the payment of taxes cashless. It has worked in other counties.” He said.

According to the commission on revenue allocation, Nairobi County is punching below its weight even though the Sakaja administration insists on increasing the revenue allocation.

CRA says Nairobi has the potential to collect Sh67 billion annually though they have set their target at Sh19billion currently.

The county assembly, under Standing Order 211 of the Nairobi City County Assembly Standing Orders on November 1, 2023, adopted a motion for the establishment of an ad-hoc committee on inquiry into Nairobi’s revenue collection systems and administration.

The objective of the inquiry was to investigate, advice, and make recommendations to the county government on the overall revenue performance of the county including the revenue collection systems, history of revenue performance, revenue collection sources, collection hitches, accountability levels, and actual receipts versus targets among others.

During the passing of the motion, Makongeni MCA who is the majority leader argued that an effective system is the backbone of the financial the economic growth.

“An effective revenue collection system is a foundation to sustainable economic growth. The underperformance of our revenue is attributed to challenges in the administration and revenue collection.” Imwatok said.

Sources close to the latest development ay there has been an ease between some MCA’s who feel they were being sidelined.

“We read malice from the start during the creation of ad hoc committee when some members were sidelined. The ICT committee was looking over the same issue sometime back in 2022.” The Source who sought anonymity told The Informer Media Group.

After the end of the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) tenure, the County did not have its system because, with the end of NMS tenure, KRA had to leave with NRS.

The delay of exit made city hall rely on NRS and with the system’s regular downtime, the county was made to reconsider the system with Sakaja requesting nine KRA officials to assist in the handling of the system.

The questions raised when KRA officials led by Anastacia Githuba said they were free to leave anytime when asked to be how they help in the handling of the system even though they said they did not know where the servers are and the administrators?

If the systems were developed by a national multi-agency led by the Ministry of ICT and Interior, why did the Ministry of Interior write back to the assembly saying they do not know where the servers are saying inquiries should be made to the head of public service?

The Informer Media Group can authoritatively reveal that NMS officers never interacted with the NRS system and that all activities were being done by the county finance department and KRA.

When KRA appeared before Adhoc they said they had only one contact person at the Ministry of ICT, Benson Njoroge whom they contacted and is still being contacted to date by the ICT department of NCCG when the system is having a downtime.

Last week Friday, the Ministry of ICT, head of public service Felix Koskei, former NMS boss, and former statehouse controller Kinuthia Mbugua snubbed the committee summons for a second time ad hoc with each of them not giving a reason not to attend.

The committee whose ninety-day term came to an end last month promised to table the report on time even though some of the witnesses have failed to appear before them.

The committee will be seeking an extension of thirty days to finalize their investigations and report writing before submitting their findings to the assembly.

The committee Chair and Majority leader Peter Imwatok said they are at 85 per cent of their findings.

“After the assembly resumes from recess on February 13, we will make a formal request for the period to be extended by 30 days if the speaker allows that is. If not, we will table what we have so far at 85 per cent.” Imwatok stated.

Asked whether he would advocate for Jambo Pay to be brought back, the Makongeni legislator said the notion that the committee wants someone to come in is not true and they will do their recommendations after report writing.

“We have no role as a committee to recommend which system to come but I am sure, the committee will report on what has happened and illegalities. The law requires a process of procurement to take place for a service provider will be found.” Imwatok said.

“If I am to recommend a system I will go for Safaricom like Kisumu did because they already have infrastructure for doing the same. The notion that the committee wants someone to come in is not true. We have no interest…Is it within the law for NRS to keep operating? Is it giving Nairobians value for money? ” He added.

Nairobi City County has been losing lots of revenue due to the failure of the systems for revenue collection. This was revealed by the County team in charge of urban planning and parking fee revenue appearing before the Ad hoc committee on revenue collection during public participation mid of December 2023.

It was revealed that any property holders fail to remit their payment anytime the system fails while those who pay reverse the money back. Motorists have been accused of being the most notorious for reversing the money.

“Now and then we experience some downfalls in the systems and parking is the greatest casualty of this. Some of the parking fees are supposed to be collected immediately, especially around the banks and malls but when the system is down, we lose a lot of money because the motorists park for a few minutes or say a short period and leave after transactions. The vehicles can hence not be clamped because you cannot see what is going on in the system.” Lucy Kanini, the officer in charge of loading zones explained.

Further, the lack of title deeds for land and buildings has also contributed to the county not collecting revenue from the property owners through the Nairobi Pay System.

The committee was told that out of nearly 180,000 properties that are in the new system, only approximately 177,000 remit revenue.

From the hearings before the committee, it was established that the system needs to be thoroughly improved for the county to avoid losing more revenue.

Jambo Pay which was used during Kidero’s time was said as the best system to ever have been used with articulation being that the county only needed to improve on it and continue using it.

They were paid 4.5 per cent commission of the revenue collected and it is during their revenue collection tenure that the county recorded the highest amount in the FY 2015/16 where they collected Sh 11.7 million against a target of Sh 15.3 billion.

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