A parliamentary committee has rejected one of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s nine nominees to the National Land Commission (NLC) over integrity issues.
The Lands committee made its verdict against former Isiolo County Woman Representative Tiya Galgalo after the tax compliance certificate she had presented to the committee during her vetting on Friday last week was invalidated by Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).
The committee chaired by Kitui South MP Dr Rachael Nyamai, however, recommended that the House approves the other eight nominees; Mr Gershom Otachi (Chairman) and Ms Esther Murugi, Prof James Tuitoek, Gertrude Nguku, Reginald Okumu, Kazungu Kambi, Ms Hubbie Al-Haji and Alister Mutugi as members to the commission.
Although the committee was divided over the nomination of Mr Kambi over land grabbing claims, it was resolved that it recommends his approval pending the determination of the case filed against him in court.
Mr Kazungu is accused by Mr Olga Sechero, a credit manager at Development Bank of Kenya, in a petition filed in the National Assembly, of irregularly acquiring Giriama ranch land LR12785 in Kwale County, which he used to get a Sh250 million loan from Development Bank of Kenya in Nairobi, through his Riva Company limited in 2007.
However, he was charged after the company defaulted.
Ms Galgalo was found not to have paid her income taxes for two years- 2017/2018. At the time of her vetting, Ms Galgalo served as Tourism Executive in Isiolo County Government.
“The taxman has told us that she did not pay her income taxes for the two years. As a committee, we have no otherwise but to recommend that her nomination be rejected because the taxman has spoken,” a committee member, who spoke in confidence said.
He added; “on Mr Kambi’s issue, it was agreed that because the accusations against him are in court, we recommend his approval and if the court finds him guilty, he steps aside. That is the law.”
The committee’s decision, which is subject to approval or rejection by the plenary is a double blow to Ms Galgalo after Isiolo Governor Mohamed Kuti yesterday submitted a nominee to the Isiolo County Assembly for vetting to replace her.
According to the Constitution and the Leadership and Integrity Act, one is required to have been cleared by the taxman before assuming responsibilities in the public service.
When Ms Galgalo appeared before the committee on Friday last week, the members took her to task over her tax compliance obligations following objections from KRA over her tax compliance certificate.
This forced the committee to summon KRA Commissioner General James Mburu to shed light on the matter.
Mr Mburu said that the certificate Ms Galgalo presented to the committee ought not to have been issued without income tax returns being filed and promised to undertake investigations on its validity and report to the MPs.
“We are investigating under which circumstances the tax compliance certificate was issued because, at the point of issue, the taxpayer did not merit the certificate,” Mr Mburu told the Dr Nyamai-led committee.
Wednesday, Mr Mburu submitted his verdict to the committee saying that the nominee had not complied with the tax requirements, putting the ball squarely in the court of the members.
According to Mr Mburu, when the tax compliance issues dawned on her, she went ahead and filed nil returns on September 18, 2018, meaning that there was no income declared despite being in gainful employment.
Ahead of the August 8, 2017, general election, she was an employee of the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) – serving as Isiolo Woman MP.
Upon losing in the bid to defend her seat, she was appointed a CEC member of Isiolo County Government, where she has been serving before her nomination by the president.
“At the time I applied no issues had been raised about my tax compliance status. Never at any time did I acquire the certificate through corruption or any other means,” Ms Galgalo said noting that she would go on to pay Sh2,000 each in penalties for late returns for the two years.
But Mr Mburu noted that as KRA was validating her returns on Wednesday last week, Ms Galgalo went ahead and amended the nil returns she had filed to reflect an income of Sh8,348,300 from the PSC and Sh3,125,500 earned from Isiolo County government.
“We need to go back to the records of PSC and the Isiolo County…we also need to see whether there was any other income because it is not just employment income,” Mr Mburu said.