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POTENTIAL CRISIS

IEBC Sh4.3bn pending bills risky for future budgets, auditor warns

Commission red flagged over risk to loss of assets in form of land and buildings

In Summary

• Commission found to be in violation of the law for failing to keep poll materials register

• Unresolved audit queries also accost the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

IEBC commissioners Abdi Guliye, Boya Molu, Wafula Chebukati (chairman) and acting CEO Marjan Hussein on November 27, 2018.
IEBC commissioners Abdi Guliye, Boya Molu, Wafula Chebukati (chairman) and acting CEO Marjan Hussein on November 27, 2018.
Image: JACK OWUOR

The IEBC has been fingered for failing to settle Sh4.3 billion pending bills it owes suppliers and contractors.

In a review of IEBC books for the financial year ending June 2019, Auditor General Nancy Gathungu says the situation portends trouble for the poll agency’s spending in subsequent years.

She said the unsettled bills would distort its budgetary provisions.

President Uhuru Kenyatta earlier in the year ordered ministries, departments, and state agencies to make pending bills a first charge in any new financial year.

Should the IEBC take up that wholly, it is likely to be left with no money for operations, considering its last year’s allocation of Sh2.6 billion.

“Failure to settle bills in the year to which they relate distorts the financial statements for the year,” Gathungu said in the report tabled in Parliament.

The IEBC attributed the bills to National Treasury's failure to release funds for the payment of the same.

Gathungu has further flagged irregularities in the commission’s failure to secure 41 constituency office blocks.

The commission, says the auditor, is at risk of losing its property since it is yet to obtain ownership documents for several parcels of land allocated to it by the national and county governments.

“The IEBC did not maintain a comprehensive register of land and buildings indicating the registration number of each parcel of land or building.”

The list should include the terms under which the parcels are held, conveyance, address, area, date of acquisition, disposal or major changes in use, capital expenditure, leasehold terms, and maintenance contracts.

Gathungu said by failing to provide the details, the commission chaired by Wafula Chebukati was in breach of the Public Finance Management (National Government) Regulations, 2015.

She also took issue with the commission’s failure to provide inventories of election materials in various stores and warehouses across the country.

“The value of these inventories was not determined and disclosed in the financial statements. Consequently, the commission did not bring to account a significant value of inventories that should be reflected in its statement of financial position.”

IEBC has also been reprimanded for failing to factor future obligations relating to legal fees on pending court cases and claims.

The polls agency has been sued in respect of bills amounting to Sh157 million yet to be validated by the National Treasury or have pending court cases.

The auditor, though holding that the commission applied public funds lawfully and effectively, cited its failure to collect over Sh260 million in court awarded costs relating to the 2017 general elections.

“No explanation has been provided for failure to collect promptly the taxed costs and for the delay of the capped costs,” she said.

A review of the IEBC’s financial statements for the year ending June 2019 further revealed that it is yet to resolve a number of past audit queries, among them the purchase of the Kenya Integrated Election Management Systems (Kiems) kit and mismanagement of 553 Thuraya modems and SIM cards.

IEBC holds that the satellite modems remain a backup option in areas where there is no coverage and in critical transmission tallying centres.

Queries on procurement of additional 1,000 Thuraya SIM cards loaded with data and undelivered SIM cards were yet to be resolved.

Equally, the commission is yet to clear grey areas in the procurement of data centres and cloud services, change of results transmission infrastructure, and purchase of Oracle database and security.

IEBC is yet to clear queries on supply and delivery of ballot papers used in the 2017 polls for which it was supposed to recover Sh4.9 million.

Questions on direct procurement for supply of gas mantles, irregular procurement of transport services, and procurement of Sh9.24 million air tickets remain unresolved.

The IEBC says the tickets were procured directly from vendors who are registered by the International Air Transport Association.

 

- mwaniki fm