Parliament has once again opposed the award of a Sh3 billion contract to a Chinese firm to survey Kenya’s minerals.

The National Assembly’s Environment committee insists that the project be undertaken by Kenyan geologists as recommended in its report on the consideration of the 2017/18 Budget Policy Statement (BPS).

“The committee objects the award of the project to the Chinese firm, Geological Exploration Technology Institute (Geti),” Ms Amina Abdalla, who chairs the committee, said in the report on the budget estimates approved by Parliament two weeks ago.

The committee at the same time demanded the reinstatement of Sh3 billion for the Nationwide Geophysical Survey, which has been removed from the budget for financial year starting July.

“The committee therefore recommends that the project be funded through the Exchequer for oversight and transparency of the award,” the MPs said.

The Mining ministry was allocated Sh3 billion for the first phase of the national airborne geophysical survey meant to establish Kenya’s quantity and distribution of minerals — in the current financial year but the allocation has not been factored in the budget for the coming year. Parliament has differed with the Treasury over the directive to the Mining ministry to seek foreign funding for surveying the minerals, arguing this would compromise the country’s interests.

“It is the opinion of the committee that external financing is not the best option in conducting this very sensitive and important activity of mapping the country’s mineral resources,” the committee said in an earlier report.

The Treasury advised Mining officials to source for external financing, a move disputed by the Environment and Natural Resources committee through submissions to the Budget and Appropriations Committee (BAC). MPs approved the BAC report two days to the presentation of the 2017/18 budget highlights by Treasury secretary Henry Rotich on March 30.

This means that the Treasury and the Ministry will be required to report back to Parliament after six months on the progress made towards implementation of House resolutions.

The committee on Implementation of House Resolutions is mandated to follow up with ministries on the status of implementation of the resolutions passed by Parliament.

The outcome of the survey aims to provide a public database that will ease exploration hassles for investors, attract more capital and boost Kenya’s earnings from the nascent sector.

The Mining ministry early December awarded UK-based International Geoscience Services (IGS) a Sh300 million consultancy contract to help Kenya prepare for the actual survey whose tender would be issued later. A team of 16 Kenyan geologists will work with IGS in the exercise.

The aerial survey has delayed following failed discussions with China’s Geti to conduct it using a grant from the Chinese government.

Data designed to enhance accuracy of companies exploring the minerals will be made available to investors at a fee.

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