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September 24, 2018

Millions lost by counties, says Auditor General

Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho with his Kilifi counterpart Amason Kingi during a rally in Mtwapa Kilifi county  on Sunday November 20.Photo/Alphonce Gari
Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho with his Kilifi counterpart Amason Kingi during a rally in Mtwapa Kilifi county on Sunday November 20.Photo/Alphonce Gari

Governors have presided over the likely loss of billions of shillings in unsupported expenditure, ghost projects, irregular payments and faulty procurement, the Auditor General reported yesterday.

The spotlight on corruption now turns to counties at a time of mounting outrage at plunder within the national government. The Jubilee administration and Jubilee Party are fighting back, saying corruption is a national cancer, not one restricted to the central government. Counties too are culpable, they say.

The report bears this out.

The Office of Auditor General Eduard Ouko yesterday was uploading to its website a massive audit report for 2014-15, county by county. The audit for Central Kenya was not immediately available.

In Kilifi county under ODM Governor Amazon Kingi, for instance, Ouko questioned why the county paid a total Sh133.2 million through the recurrent account without using the Ifmis financial management platform as required by law.

The Auditor says the expenditure could not be confirmed, as county finance officers failed to explain why Ifmis had not been made fully operational.

Read: Nairobi spent Sh1 billion in legal fees, overshot budget by Sh5bn

Expert comment: Wanted: Citizen action against corruption cartels

The county is at the centre of a Sh51 million graft storm. Funds allegedly were siphoned off and paid to two Nairobi-based companies through Ifmis.

Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, an ODM star, is on the spot for operating four parallel revenue collection accounts: two accounts in KCB, one in National Bank of Kenya and another in the Cooperative Bank.

The county is also accused of running 22 bank accounts, including those for defunct local authorities, with balances totalling Sh193.7 million.

“In the circumstances, the validity, accuracy and completeness of the balances amounting to Sh299 million as at June 30, 2015, could not be ascertained,” reads the report.

The county is also accused of failing to bank into the county revenue fund Sh165 million collected between January and June 2015.

The Public Finance Management act requires each county Treasury ensure all money raised or received or on behalf of the county government goes into the county revenue fund.

The Auditor General also cast doubt on expenditure amounting to Sh24.8 million to fund the Council of Governors, despite the fact the council's budget is funded by the national Treasury.

The amount was also not included in the approved budget estimates for 2014-15.

In Nakuru, under Jubilee Governor Kinuthia Mbugua, Ouko said five County Service Board members and the secretary have gobbled more thanSh3 million in overpaid salaries neither earned nor merited.

“Besides drawing overpaid salaries, the gratuity payable at the expiry of the contract period is likely to be overstated,” the report states.

In Garissa, under ODM's Nathif Jama, the county government paid Sh24 million to officers attending seminars and workshops outside their duty stations without documentation.

“No supporting documents, such as bus tickets or invitation letters, were attached to the the payment vouchers...The nature and purpose of the journey made by the officers was also not specified, while some officers collected money on behalf of others without authority,” the report says.

According to Ouko, Garissa paid Sh50 million to a company known as Fatco to prepare its Spacial Development Plan. However, the money that was part of a Sh172 million contract, was paid three months in advance before any work began.

“In view of the forgoing, it has not been possible to ascertain weather the county government got value for money for project implementation and expenditure of Sh5 million," the report says.

In Homa Bay under ODM Governor Cyprian Awiti, Ouko identified at least two projects worth more than Sh12 million, in which contractors ac where contractors have been paid but no work has been done.

The county paid Sh4,927,290 to construct changing rooms and VIP toilets at e Homa Bay stadium.

However, audit verification on October 9, 2015 — six months after the supposed handover date of May 1, 2015 — revealed construction was still ongoing.

The county also paid more than Sh8 million for the Ranen Water Pan Project. However, physical verification revealed the contractor was not on site.

In Siaya under ODM Governor Cornel Rasanga, Ouko raised the red flag on procurement of air tickets. One firm was paid Sh3,769,600 and another Sh2,986,130.

However, procurement procedures for identifying the air service providers and the payment vouchers supporting the payments were not availed for audit.

“Consequently, it was not possible to confirm whether the beneficiaries actually traveled and whether the services were provided and value for money received,” the report says.

In Nairobi, under ODM Governor Evans Kidero, the Auditor General raised questions about millions collected in parking fees and other issues.

“The parking spaces are usually always double-parked, implying that all parking slots are taken up and even exceeded, which implies that revenue collected should have been more than expected revenue from all parking slots,” Ouko says.

But the county only collected Sh23 million from off-street parking lots at the Law Courts, Sunken Car Park and Intercontinental, with total parking slots of 530. However, with a 100 per cent occupation only, the county ought to have collected over Sh36 million from the three parking slots.

Ouko also raised questions about repayment of loans worth over Sh735 million.

According to the Auditor, no documentation was provided for acquisition of the loan and the loans were not approved either by the assembly or national Treasury.

“In addition, no information was availed to verify when the facilities were started, the principal amounts, interest terms and the duration of the loans,” the report states.

Kakamega under ODM's Wycliffe Oparanya is blamed for making irregular payments of Shs200 million to pay cane farmers of Mumia Sugar Company.

The county also spent Sh64 million for domestic and subsistence travel without supporting documents.

Payment vouchers amounting to Sh13 million did not indicate the voucher number and the payee.

Payments vouchers of Sh34.7 million indicated the voucher number but not the payee, while vouchers amounting to Sh15.9 million indicated only the payee and not the voucher number.

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