NO ANNUAL WORK PLAN

State board sat 78 times, took Sh31 million in perks — audit

Financial performance reflected expenses totalling Sh31.4 million

In Summary
  • State Corporations Act, Cap 446 recommends a maximum of four meetings in a year spread quarterly and two allowable ad hoc committee meetings
  • Three senior staff had been acting in the posts for over three years contrary to the requirements of Section 34 (3) of the Public Service Commission Act, 2017.
Auditor General Nancy Gathungu
Auditor General Nancy Gathungu
Image: CHARLENE MALWA

The board of directors of a state agency sat 78 meetings in one year, drawing over Sh31 million in allowances, a report by Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu has revealed.

Gathungu said Kenya Water Tower Agency's statement of financial performance reflected expenses totalling Sh31.4 million incurred on payment of sitting allowances to members.

“Audit review of board records indicated that the meetings were held during the year under review,” she said.

“This was contrary to the provisions of State Corporations Act, Cap 446 which recommends a maximum of four meetings in a year spread quarterly and two allowable ad hoc committee meetings.” 

The report for the year that ended June 30, 2019, further said the board did not have an annual work plan contrary to Section 1.9 of the Mwongozo Code of Governance.

“Consequently, the propriety of the expenditure incurred onboard expenses during the year under review could not be confirmed,” Gathungu stated.

She said personnel records indicated that three senior staff had been acting in the posts for over three years contrary to the requirements of Section 34 (3) of the Public Service Commission Act, 2017.

“These were the director general, director partnerships and human resource manager. No reason was provided for the failure by the board to recruit substantiative officeholders to the posts or confirm the officers in acting position,” she said.

Gathungu said a fund established by the agency to harness resources for restoration and conservation of the country's water towers has remained dormant, some 11 years since it was set up.

Water Towers Conservation Fund was established in July 2010 and a capital account opened for it at the Central Bank of Kenya with a deposit of Sh50 million to finance initial activities.

Gathungu said the agency did not provide a satisfactory explanation for the failure to operationalise the fund and therefore remains dormant to date.

“In the circumstance, the agency may have breached the law,” Gathungu said.

The agency is a state corporation mandated to coordinate and oversee the protection, rehabilitation, conservation and sustainable management of water towers in Kenya.

The agency falls under the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

The country has five key water towers; The Mau Forest Complex, The Mount Kenya, The Aberdares, The Cherangani Hills and Mt Elgon.

The government has listed them as the most crucial water towers that needed monitoring.

The five are considered as the backbone of the country’s economy which provides 75 per cent of its renewable water resources.

The Water Towers cover six of Kenya’s main drainage basins; these are the North Rift, South Rift, Rift Valley Bottom, Western, Central Highlands, Eastern and Coast.

Mau Forest Complex is the most important water tower in Kenya and it supports millions of livelihoods nationally, regionally as well as internationally.

It covers an area of 455,000 hectares and is as large as the forests of Mt. Kenya and the Aberdare Range combined.

Gathungu further said records in the agency indicated that an account denoted in the name of the fund held a cash balance amounting to Sh31 million at a commercial bank in Nairobi as of June 30 2019.

“No explanation was provided by management on the nature of the cash deposit and whether any payment or withdrawal had been made therefrom,” she said.

 

Edited by Kiilu Damaris