SUSPICIOUS EXPENDITURE

Millions sunk in stalled projects in Homa Bay — audit report

County executive paid out Sh602.30 million for several infrastructure projects that have either not started or have stalled.

In Summary
  • Homa Bay, the report shows, is sinking in debts, some of which appear fictitious.
  • The county has been on an uncontrolled recruitment spree that consumed half of its budget.
Homa Bay Governor Cyprian Awiti.
Homa Bay Governor Cyprian Awiti.
Image: FILE

Taxpayers’ money amounting to about Sh700 million has been sunk into stalled projects in Homa Bay, a new audit report shows.

Auditor General Nancy Gathungu flagged several explained expenditures in the 2018-19 report that smell of possible loss of public funds.

The county, the report shows, is sinking in debts, some appear fictitious – not supported – as it emerged that Governor Cyprian Awiti's administration is spending half of its budget on salaries and wages.

Gathungu says in the report that the county executive paid out Sh602.30 million for several infrastructure projects that have either not started or have stalled.

They include the construction of an outpatient and causality block at Rachuonyo district hospital, construction of Apuoche ECDE classrooms, construction of a maize processing plant at Kigoto in Suba and a post-harvest grain handling facility at Kogoto.

“The management paid for works that were not complete or had not been started. In the circumstances, it is not possible to confirm whether the citizens of Homa Bay county have received value for money on projects,” the report reads.

In addition, some Sh24.34 million that the county pumped into the upgrading of Nyakwere market is at risk of loss as the project has stalled.

The project, whose contract sum was Sh50.54 million, was co-funded by the county executive and UN-Habitat but has since stalled after Sh24.34 million was paid.

Further, the auditor indicted the county government for an unexplained expenditure of Sh44.25 million for the construction of a finance office block.

Though the county spent the money on the project, the officers failed to provide relevant documents to authenticate the expenditures, raising concerns some of the cash may have been embezzled.

“The management did not provide tender documents including advertisement opening minutes, technical evaluation report, letter of acceptance, bill of quantities and contract agreement for audit review,” the report says.

Further, county officers could not substantiate the expenditure of Sh27.87 million incurred on maintenance of county vehicles and another Sh12 million spent on devolution conference.

The county finance officers did not avail supporting documents including payment vouchers to the auditors for review.

The report shows that the county accumulated Sh314.86 million debt during the year under review.

But, shockingly, out of the amount, Sh297.90 million was not supported by authentic and verifiable source documents and schedules, clearly indicating the type of supply, contracted amount, the amount paid during the year and the outstanding balances at the end of the year.

This triggered concerns the debts could be fictitious.

The county finance bosses have also been put on the spot for failing to recover some Sh11.11 million outstanding imprests.

“The management has not put in place mechanisms to ensure that imprests are surrendered within seven days after the end of assignments including recovery with interest at the CBK exchange rates," the report reads.

The county has also not put in place approved staff establishment – a human resource management policy framework – to guide in determining optimum staff levels, filling of vacancies and recruitment and placement of staff.

As a result, the county has been on an uncontrolled recruitment spree that consumed half of its budget.

During the year under review, the county spent Sh3.31 billion or 50 per cent of its budget on staff emoluments.

This is contrary to Public Finance Management Act that caps expenditures on staff salaries and wages at 35 per cent of the budget.

 

Edited by Henry Makori