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State to spend Sh8.4bn more on school tablets

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The government will sink a further Sh8.4 billion into the controversial laptop project that has so far gobbled up in excess of Sh50 billion.

The new expenditure comes months after Auditor General Edward Ouko disclosed that the state could not account for Sh15.2 billion that had been pumped into the project. 

The project, a major 2013 Jubilee campaign plank, has been rubbished by critics as unrealistic and populist, especially after the government switched to buying tablets for pupils instead of the promised laptops.

The fresh allocation is captured in the Division of Revenue Bill, 2019, tabled in Parliament on Thursday.

The Teachers Service Commission, the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, and ICT Authority are the key agencies handling the laptop project. 

The project was allocated Sh17.6 billion, Sh13.4 billion, Sh13.4 billion, and Sh6.3 billion in four financial years since 2015. 

Whereas Education CS Amina Mohamed maintains the project is on course, many taxpayers suspect it might be a white elephant. 

“The project has not failed. It was rolled out nationwide after the successes of the pilot. The gadgets are in use,” Amina said in an interview last month. 

A KICD report revealed that only 39 per cent of the teachers use the gadgets to teach.

Apart from the digital literacy project, Treasury CS Henry Rotich has allocated billions for ventures whose viability is questionable. 

Key among them is the Sh11.1 billion allocated for national irrigation and fertiliser clearance at a time farmers are lamenting over delayed fertiliser subsidies for the current planting season.

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The security sector is also the biggest gainer in the proposed revenue share having been allocated Sh27.9 billion for enhanced operations. the Treasury projects that the monies will be spent on police vehicles and helicopters. 

Youth Empowerment, which has also been a subject of serious audit queries, will get Sh16.2 billion while Sh26 billion will be set aside for older persons, OVC, child welfare, presidential bursary and persons living with severe disability if the Bill is enacted. 

Independent constitutional bodies – Commission on Revenue Allocation, Salaries and Remuneration Commission, National Lands Commission, National Police Service Commission, the IEBC, and TSC – will get Sh261.3 billion. 

Rotich’s Bill further states that the government will spend Sh4.1 billion to cater for KCPE and KCSE registration fees in the financial year 2019/20. A total of Sh11.2 billion has been spent on the programme since its roll-out in 2016. 

The government also plans to spend Sh109.5 billion on pensions and constitutional offices salaries.

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State clears way for affordable fertiliser : The Standard

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Farmers maintain one-meter distance while planting in Mangu Estate, Nakuru County. [Harun Wathari/Standard]
Kenya National Trading Corporation (KNTC) has partnered with Moroccan fertiliser manufacturer, OCP Group, to enable smallholder farmers access low-cost input.

The partnership will see Di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) distributed to farmers at Sh2,300 per 50kg bag.
KNTC Managing Director Timothy Mirugi said the partnership with OCP Group through its subsidiary, OCP Kenya, was in line with the government’s objective of promoting agriculture under the Big Four agenda.
Mirugi said the fertiliser will be sourced directly from the manufacturer in Morocco, thus cutting costs normally charged by suppliers and middlemen and shouldered by farmers.
SEE ALSO: The CEO who sometimes goes without salaryThe move gives maize farmers a sigh of relief. The farmers have been buying the same amount of fertiliser for between Sh2,800 and Sh3,100 from some stores in the North Rift region.
Limited stocks
Farmers have been scrambling for limited stocks of last year’s carryover of subsidised fertiliser in Eldoret and Moi’s Bridge National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) depots. An official from the board, who spoke to The Standard on condition of anonymity, said they were yet to receive subsidy for the current year.
For More of This and Other Stories, Grab Your Copy of the Standard Newspaper.   Read Now »
During the opening of this year’s Eldoret Agricultural Society of Kenya show, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya announced that fertilisers for this year’s planting season would cost Sh2,300 per bag.
Uasin Gishu Agriculture Executive Samuel Yego recently said NCPB still has 32,000 bags of last year’s subsidised fertiliser at the Eldoret depot, and another 25,000 bags in Moi’s Bridge. He said this was inadequate since the county requires over 550,000 bags.
Yesterday, Mirugi told The Standard that they would guard supplies from unscrupulous business people who may buy the fertiliser in large quantities to sell at higher prices.
“We are targeting smallholder farmers to enhance food security and economic empowerment. Priority will be given to those who cultivate 10 acres. Those with 50 acres will also be considered after vetting,” said Mirugi.
He said mechanisms are in place to ensure the input only benefits farmers who produce maize, wheat and other food crops. “We are liaising with agricultural officials and county administrators, coordinated by county commissioners, to ensure only genuine farmers benefit,” he said.

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Mwathethe set to get one more year as KDF boss : The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta(left) and Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces Gen. Samson Mwathethe during the celebrations of Mashujaa at Nyayo National Stadium. [Beverlyne Musili/Standard]
Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) Samson Mwathethe is likely to have his term extended by a year.

If it happens, it would be the second time Gen Mwathethe’s stay in office would be extended. The first time was in May last year.
He was to officially leave office next month, but sources say there are no signs of ceremonies associated with the imminent departure of a KDF chief.
“If he was leaving, he would already have started visiting service command stations to bid them farewell. We would be seeing activities here and there but as of now, it is quiet. We are just waiting,” the source said.
There is speculation President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, may extend Gen Mwathethe’s term by a year.
Mwathethe’s predecessor Gen Julius Karangi also got two extensions.
Meetings for the military succession plans have been disrupted by the outbreak of coronavirus. Military chiefs are said to be planning to hold virtual meetings to plan the succession.
For More of This and Other Stories, Grab Your Copy of the Standard Newspaper.   Read Now »
The Number One Board, the organ that decides appointment and promotion of senior military officers and retirement or extension of contracts of Kenya Army, Kenya Navy and Kenya Air Force bosses, is expected to meet this month.
The KDF Act says a CDF, his deputy and service commanders shall serve a single term of four years, or retire upon attaining the mandatory retirement age.
But the Act also says the president may, on the recommendation of the National Defence Council, extend the CDF’s term for a period not exceeding one year in times of war or emergencies such as political uncertainty.
Mwathethe, a naval officer, was named CDF on April 17, 2015, replacing Gen Karangi of Kenya Air Force. This now means the seat will automatically go to Kenya Army, going by tradition.
Top on the list of those to succeed Mwathethe are his deputy Lt Gen Robert Kibochi, Army Commander Lt Gen Walter ole Raria and Lt Gen Leonard Ngondi, the force commander of the AU-UN Hybrid operation in Darfur, Sudan.
The other high-ranking officer who has a chance of being promoted to full General is National Defence College Commandant Lt-Gen Adan Mulata. He is, however, disadvantaged by the fact that he is from Kenya Air Force.
Whatever happens will depend on the outcome of the National Defence Council meeting where a decision on the way forward will be taken and the president advised accordingly.
Under the Tonje rules, the post of CDF is rotated among the three services – Kenya Army, Kenya Air Force and Kenya Navy. The rules, by Retired Chief of General Staff Gen Daudi Tonje, have guided appointments in KDF.
There has been silent lobbying by those hoping to succeed Mwathethe.
The new CDF will oversee the transition from the Kenyatta presidency in 2022. Regarding Somalia, KDF is supposed to withdraw its troops from the war-torn country by 2021, which the new CDF will also oversee.
The KDF Act also notes that in appointing the CDF, the president shall take into account the service, seniority, military and formal civil education – a degree from a university – and military and security experience.
A military general is supposed to retire at 62, a Lieutenant-General at 61, a Major-General at 59 and a Brigadier at 57 years.

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Chief dies after being hit by car : The Standard

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Erick Owino Odundo, assistant chief in West Kanyada location, Homa Bay died in a grisly accident. [James Omoro/Standard]
An assistant chief was on Saturday killed in a road accident along the Homa Bay–Rongo highway.

Erick Odundo, the assistant chief of Kotieno Sub-location in West Kanyada location is said to have been hit by a probox car.
According to Senior Chief Joshua Ochogo of Homa Bay Township Location, Odundo was riding a motorbike when the probox hit him.
Mr Ochogo said the probox driver was trying to overtake another vehicle when he hit Odundo’s motorbike. 
SEE ALSO: One killed in Kakamega road crash“It is a sad moment that we have lost the assistant chief. He died on the spot,” Ochogo said.

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