Bomet Governor Hillary Barchok was at pains explaining to the Senate Committee on County Public Accounts and Investment (CPAIC) why the operational costs in the governor’s office have increased from Ksh43 million in 2017 to Ksh143 million in 2018.
“I am a layman, I do not understand [the financial terms],” Barchok told the senators, causing Moses Kajwang, the chairperson of the committee, to wonder how the county chief, who holds a PhD in curriculum development from Moi University, “isn’t able to understand simple financial terms”.
“Governor, you cannot be a layman, you have a PhD….,” said Kajwang.
The committee was informed -- through audited financial statements -- that Barchok’s office bought him a governor’s desk for Ksh775, 000, an executive flower stand for Ksh57, 000, executive chair for Ksh293, 000, a book shelf for Ksh400, 000, among other expenses that brought the total furniture expenses in Barchok’s office to Ksh8 million.
The governor’s personal assistant's chair is said to have cost the taxpayer Ksh395, 000.
In his defense, Barchok said the products were procured during the tenure of first Bomet Governor Isaac Rutto.
Barchok was also questioned on how a Governor’s Lounge was priced at Ksh50 million, and an additional Ksh8 million spent on adjustments. Documents further showed that landscaping of the governor’s office and lounge cost Kenyans Ksh24 million.
“Isaac Rutto constructed an office that was not accessible to persons living with disabilities, hence we had to set aside the Ksh8 million to make the adjustments that will make it possible for people living with disabilities to easily access the office,” said Barchok, who alleged that he is yet to propose or make any substantial payments as governor, given he assumed office on August 8, 2019.
“I am being roasted for wrongs I haven’t committed. All these products were requisitioned during Rutto’s tenure,” said Barchok.
The CPAIC is made up of Senators: Kajwang’ Moses Otieno (chairperson), Linturi Franklin Mithika (vice chairperson) and seven other members, including: Adan Dullo Fatuma, Kimani Wamatangi Paul, Kibiru Charles Reubenson, Omanga Millicent, Mwinyi Haji Mohamed, Olekina Ledama and Prof. Ongeri Samson Kegengo.