Ward representatives led by Nairobi MCAs are fleecing millions of taxpayers money through unsupported expenditure, unnecessary domestic and foreign travels.
They have taken advantage of their role in appointing speakers to demand millions in foreign and bench-marking trips that continue to deprive counties money to finance meaningful development projects.
According to Auditor General Edward Ouko, this has set the members of county assemblies on collision course with speakers, as each side battles to share allocations to the devolved governments.
Mr Ouko’s report has also lifted the lid on the latest wave of infighting in the assemblies, as it emerges that the chaos are largely fanned by the battle to control resources. In his latest audit for the year ending June 2017, Ouko reveals glaring discrepancies in the budgets and expenditure, pending bills and outstanding imprest, inflated car loans and mortgage, and inflated insurance costs in 22 counties.
In Nairobi, for instance, Sh70 million of Sh107 million paid to Lap Fund was not supported by payment vouchers and consequently, the accuracy of the compensation of employees’ expenditure of Sh780 million cannot be confirmed.
Although the ledger reflects expenditure of Sh43 million, there is a variance of Sh29 million and the accuracy of the office and general supplies and services amounting to Sh13 million cannot be confirmed.
In Makueni, payments were made towards compensation of employees amounting to Sh356.9 million, but excel payroll records reflects Sh269 million, resulting in unreconciled difference of Sh87.9 million.
Further, the total amount captured in the payment vouchers in respect to compensation of employees amounted to Sh338 million, resulting again to unreconciled difference of Sh18 million.
“Under the circumstances, the accuracy of compensation of employees’ expenditure of Sh356 million cannot be confirmed,” reads the audit report.
Interestingly, Turkana County Assembly budgeted for the construction of ward offices and new county assembly offices at Sh180 million and Sh77 million respectively.
However, the records presented for audit indicate that the contract signed for the construction of the ward offices was Sh300 million, exceeding the budgeted amount by Sh120 million.
Exceeded by Sh102 million
Budgetary allocation for the construction of the assembly offices was exceeded by Sh102 million after contract documents showed that the contractor signed for Sh179 million for the work.
In Kwale, the auditor notes that a contractor was paid Sh58 million but the work done did not match the payments made at the time of the audit review. This was after the contractor had been paid Sh302 million for the construction of the county assembly building budgeted at Sh466 million.
In Trans Nzoia, the statements of receipts and payments reflects social security benefits figure of Sh51 million against a nil budget contrary to regulation 53 (1) of the Public Finance Management (County Government) regulation, 2015.
“Under the circumstances, the county assembly is in breach of the law and the validity, accuracy and propriety of social benefits expenditure of Sh51 million could not be confirmed,” the report reads.
Lamu is on the spot for spending Sh13.4 million on pre-retirement training in Dubai, where value for the money could not be confirmed.
Of the Sh13.4 million the deputy Clerk and the director of legal services, who both have seven years to retire, spent Sh415,713 on the pre-retirement training in Dubai.
“There was no evidence to show that the officers indeed attended the training. Consequently, the propriety and value for money of the training expenses of Sh415,713 could not be confirmed,” reads the report.
The report showed how Machakos MCAs made a trip to Abu Dhabi in 2014 and were paid per diems amounting to Sh2.6 million but no report has been provided so far to support the gains made from the trip.
No explanation has been given to date in respect of Sh150,000 made and paid to the members as miscellaneous expenses despite full per diems having been paid.
The county assembly also paid Sh3.6 million for security services, although the minutes of the tender committee held on February 3, 2015 shows that the security tender was awarded to another company for Sh12,500 per guard.
In Nandi County, a review of the personnel records presented for audit revealed that the county had 70 employees in its payroll, all from one dominant community, contrary to section 65 (1)(e) of the County Government Act. The law requires that the Public Service Board, in Selecting employees, considers that at least 30 per cent of the vacant posts are filled by those who are not form the dominant community.
In Homa Bay County, the approved final budget for the assembly was Sh955 million, with Sh935 million allocated to recurrent expenditure and Sh20 million for development, out of which pending bills were allocated Sh7.9 million. However, the propriety of the expenditure cannot be confirmed.
In West Pokot, foreign travel expenses totaling Sh19 million could not be confirmed and another Sh10 million was incurred as per diems for various activities such as report writing, annual retreat and training for ward administrators that were held outside assembly headquarters.
In Taita Taveta, Sh14.9 million was unsupported with documents ranging from payments for gratuity, hospitality services, foreign travels, personal allowances paid as part of salaries and routine maintenance for motor vehicles and other transport equipment.
Elgeyo Marakwet County Assembly procured kitchen equipment and furniture worth Sh6.9 million, which the auditor general says was unnecessary.
Turkana County Assembly spent Sh3.4 million on foreign travel to Malaysia and South Africa, but the trips cannot be supported because they never took place.
In Vihiga County Assembly, the auditor notes, there were irregular and double sitting allowances totaling Sh3 million.
According to Ouko, Nakuru spent Sh59.7 million to pay ward representatives sitting allowances, but the review of a bio-metric system that had been installed in the assembly to monitor attendance of plenary and committee meetings showed several disparities.
In Kajiado, Speaker Johnson Osoi, who is the chairman of the County Assembly Forum, and Kajiado West MP George Sunkuiya have both been singled out in the audit report as having received imprest that they did not account for. According to the report, Osoi was issued with an impress of Sh509,184 to attend a training on strategic public service administration in Singapore.
He travelled on July 24 and returned on July 29. “It was not clear whether this was an official trip, as the initial training was from June 26 to 30, 2017,” says the report.
Sunkuiya, who was a ward representative at the time, before he was elected MP, was issued Sh402,696 imprest to attend the same meeting with Osoi, but did not provide any evidence that he travelled.?