An audit report on Embu county assembly has unearthed a major scandal in which officials pocketed millions of shillings in double payments while on foreign trips to Tanzania.
The auditor general, in his audit report for the 2014/2015 financial year, says Embu spent Sh14,587,822 for a five-day foreign trip to Arusha Tanzania where top officials received millions of shillings in travel allowances and per diem.
Among those who traveled are 34 MCAs, 2 aides, one clerk, one driver, one security personnel and 15 members of the executive.
The speaker was paid Sh206,358, Clerk of the county Assembly Sh288,901.20, 33 MCAs Sh7,500,477, the bodyguard and an aide gobbled a total of sh366,261, Sh600,000 was paid out as transport while members of the executive received a total of Sh5,625,825.
"There was, however, no invitation letter including the itinerary indicating the places to be visited and the actual activities to be carried out by the participants during the five days," says the report.
Although the participants were paid per diem and their transport costs fully catered for, the auditor points out that a further Sh279,000 was irregularly paid to various hotels in Arusha for supper and breakfast for participants, resulting in a double payment.
“No reports or documented lessons learnt from Arusha tour were provided for audit review hence value for money may not have been realised,” says the auditor.
The auditor has also unmasked Sh 3.5 million paid out to all MCAs for transport and as per diem for four days during the Second Annual Devolution Conference in Kisumu.
Of this, Sh2, 879,550 was paid as allowances, Sh200,640 (Transport), Sh205,200 (registration), 205,000 (entertainment) and a refund of Sh9,610.
Although the MCAs traveled by air to Kisumu and paid their full per diem for the four days, a bus was hired at a cost of sh50,000 to transport unspecified people to Kisumu.
The auditor says the expenditure was irregular as it was supposed to be borne by the county assembly.
The auditor general questions why the county hired a hotel in Kisumu for sh73,900 to provide food and drinks to unspecified people on April 24, 2015, despite the fact that the event ended on April 23, 2015, and participants flown back to Nairobi.
The damning report also points out that the county made irregular expenditure amounting to Sh205,000 in respect to Madaraka day celebrations, a totally an unrelated expense from the intended expense of the Devolution Conference.
Ouko has put the county on the spotlight for an irregular tender award for the construction of a perimeter wall for the county hall, in which the taxpayer lost a total of Sh130 million.
The auditor questioned why the county awarded the tender to the second lowest bidder who quoted Sh 9, 715,446.70, Sh1,193,8930.30 more that what the lowest bidder quoted contrary to the law.
The auditor also points out that the county erroneously stated in the advertisement that the contract was for the construction of Embu Moi stadium costing taxpayers an additional Sh111,000 in an addendum issued to correct the anomaly.
The county also placed the advertisement in only one local daily instead of at least two local dailies as required by law.
In the shocking revelation touching on massive tender irregularities, the Embu county awarded a firm a contract worth Sh4,267,350 on July 2014, for the rehabilitation of Gachoka stadium despite the fact that the contractor was the second lowest bidder.
“The lowest evaluated bidder would have done the work at a cost of sh3,698,309 which could have resulted in the saving of Sh569,04O,” says the report.
The contractor was paid Sh2,037,233 vide G-pay of March 4, 2015, but a site visit by the auditors revealed that the contractor had deserted the site and the work was 40 per cent complete.
County officials are also on the spot for having irregularly withdrawn Sh6,337,440.75 from a sub revenue collection account number 011414084335600 held at cooperative bank Embu.
“The money was paid to certain institutions and individuals for undisclosed reasons and without any authority from the controller of the budget as envisaged,” reads the report.
The auditor has raised the red flag on the Sh880,000, four months cumulative house allowance paid to eleven directors recruited in March 2015.
An advertisement placed, before their recruitment, the directors were each supposed to get a monthly house allowance of sh20,000 but ended up being paid Sh40,000 per month upon recruitment.
The county had budget of Sh10 million to buy two parcels of land for the construction of a youth polytechnic and Early Child Development (ECD) learning centre but went ahead to pay Sh13.26 million.
This means that the county incurred a variation of Sh2.816 million over and above the approved budget without a supplementary budget prepared for the same.
The county bought 11.7 hectares of land (registration number Gaturi/Githimu/ 9653) from Stephen Njagi at a cost of sh 3.4 million and 13.24 hectares of land from Miriuki Njeru (registration number Mbeere Kirima/1171) at a cost of Sh9.816 million all located at Kithimu area.
The auditor also questioned why the county paid sh9.816 for the Mbeere Kirima/1171) plot, while the official valuation was Sh7 million.
The county is also accused of a possibility of falsifying documents to show that the two parcels of land were owned by one person while transfer documents showed two different people owing the parcels.
'There was no power of Attorney made available to cover the conflicting names and no valid explanation was given for the 19.48 hectares variation in the size of the land.
The auditor further questioned the accuracy and validity of pending bills amounting to Sh254.4 million after county officials failed to produce supporting documents including ledgers invoices and age analysis
“Documents attached accounted for Sh3,373,300 leaving Sh126,700 unaccounted for,” says the report.