NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 28 – The Public Investments Committee (PIC) has lost its bid to probe the proposed tie between Kenya Airways and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, hours after Deputy President William Ruto criticized MPs on their handling of the Government proposal to merge operations of the airline and JKIA.
Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi ruled that the matter should be handled by the Departmental Committee on Transport Public Works and Housing.
Muturi was forced to intervene in the tug of war pitting the two House Committees after both chairmen – David Pkosing (Transport) and Abdullswamad Nassir (PIC)- wrote to him requesting his guidance.
In a two page letter, the House Speaker ruled in favour of the Transport Committee while citing the Parliamentary Standing Orders 216(5) which mandates it, to among others, investigate, inquire into and report on all matters relating to the activities, administration, operations and estimates of the assigned ministries and departments.
“It is clear that the issue of the takeover of the Kenya Airports Authority (facility) by Kenya Airways is a matter of major government policy. As such, the matter falls within the mandate of the Departmental Committee on Transport, Public Works and Housing.”
“However, it would be important to note that the Public Investment Committee may deal with the matter if this was a query arising from the examination of audited reports and accounts of the Kenyans Airports Authority or a special audit,” Muturi ruled.
On Thursday, Ruto said Kenya Airways is a key anchor in the economy and that the proposal is an important step in the recovering of the national carrier.
He said that the airline heavily contributes to the country’s tourism and horticulture sectors which two of the biggest foreign exchange earners.
“It will be irresponsible of us as a Government to allow Kenya Airways to go down because if it does, it will go down with the Airports Authority because 70 percent of the revenue it collects comes from Kenya Airways,” said Ruto.
According to the KAA Board, the Authority will collect Sh2.9 billion if the partnership – which exempts KQ from paying certain fees – is passed compared to Sh7 billion it gets from JKIA annually.
PIC had halted further engagements between KAA and KQ until the deal is scrutinized.
In a report tabled on Wednesday by PIC Chairman Abdullswamad Nassir, the Committee members say the deal was rushed and could lead to a loss of taxpayers’ money.
“The Committee recommends that all engagements between KAA and KQ regarding the privately initiated investment proposal on the takeover of JKIA operations should be stopped until an inquiry is concluded and the House pronounces itself on the matter,” states the report
PIC had directed the Auditor General to conduct a special audit on the proposed concession arrangement.