AUDIT QUERIES

Bomet governor on the spot over Sh9.9 million office furniture

Brachok says procurement was done by the administration of former Governor Isaac Rutto

In Summary

• Some Sh110,130 was used to buy an executive chair for the governor and Sh78,000 to buy another chair for the personal assistant.

Bomet Governor Hillary Barchok
QUESTIONED: Bomet Governor Hillary Barchok
Image: FELIX KIPKEMOI

 

Bomet county spent Sh9.9 million to furnish the newly constructed Sh60.85 million governor's office.

Some Sh110,130 was used to buy an executive chair for the governor and Sh78,000 to buy another chair for the personal assistant.

 
 

The county spent Sh713,000 on an executive desk for the governor, Sh293,701 on a credenza and Sh398,000 on a conference table in the office.

The revelations emerged during the questioning of Barchok by the Senate County Public Accounts and Investments Committee on Tuesday over the 2017-18 audit queries raised by former Auditor General Edward Ouko.

Documents presented to the committee showed the county spent an additional Sh25 million on excavation, Sh4 million on an electric fence and Sh3 million on perimeter wall to secure the office block.

The expenditure irked the committee with chairman Moses Kajwang (Homa Bay), Ledama Olekina (Narok), Kimani Wamatangi (Kiambu) and Sam Ongeri (Kisii) pressing the governor to explain whether taxpayers got the value for money in the project.

"So, the governor is sitting on a chair that is worth the cost of a classroom in Bomet? Really, was there prudence on the use of public money in this project?" Kajwang asked.

The county bought the seats from Panesar - a renowned furniture manufacturer in the 2016-17 financial year.

“It is only the office of the President or Parliament that buy furniture from Panesar. We know how expensive they are. Why didn't you go to prisons or Jua Kali people? I buy mine from Jua kali," Ongeri said.

 
 

Barchok, who assumed office following the death of Joyce Laboso in August, admitted there was extravagance in the project. 

He, however, said his administration was not to blame.

He told the committee that the procurement for the project was done during former Governor Isaac Rutto's administration and that his administration only make the payments.

"Procurement was done sometime in 2016 and when we came in, we found the chairs and tables in the incomplete building. What we did was to make the payments because we got the documents," Barchok said.

The auditor in his report, flagged the construction of the governor’s block noting that Laboso's administration varied the initial Sh52 million contract and increased the cost by Shh8.85 million.

But Barchok said they varied the contract to accommodate the purchase of a ram to enable people with disabilities to access the building.

Barchok was put to task to explain 'a suspicious Sh939 million expenditure' after the county government failed to provide adequate documents to justify the transaction.

The money was spent on the acquisition of goods and services, but the transaction raised queries because the county failed to classify the items.

For instance, the county expenditure on ‘specialised materials’ increased from Sh54.10 million the previous year to Sh186.97 million in the year under review.

The county's expenditure on training rose from Sh47.43 million to Sh73.47 million and domestic travel expenses rose from Sh126.52 million to Sh83.76 over the one year period.

Kajwang invited the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to probe the expenditures.

“These expenditures are suspicious and I don’t know if the governor you expect us to accept them. Some expenses cannot grow by Sh100 million in just one year," Kajwang said.

edited by p. obuya