By The Standard
Kenyaâ€™s military is on the dock over hundreds of millions of shillings in questionable payments, unexplained spending, payment for shoddy work and failure to channel billions of shillings from the United Nations to the public coffers.
In an audit report seen by The Standard on Saturday, Auditor General Edward Ouko has revealed that the military flouted financial regulations, and ignored queries from the auditor on how public money is spent.
The Auditor General, who has scoured the books on military expenditure at the Department of Defence (DoD) for the financial year 2013-2014, revealed that the spending of a colossal Sh320 million in the first financial year of President Uhuru Kenyatta as the Commander-in-Chief, was questionable.
The revelations come after Chief of Defence Forces Julius Karangi retired and handed over the leadership of the Kenya Defence Forces to General Samson Mwathethe, a career naval officer.
The report shows more than Sh150 million was pocketed in per diem (daily allowances for travel out of station) and in imprest payments (the out-of-pocket cash which has to be accounted for at the end of a specific task or mission). Kenya, which has troops in the Africa Union Mission in Somalia, and in different peace-keeping missions around the world, got Sh6.1 billion from the UN.
The auditors got the documents showing the money came in, but they say in their report that they had no â€œevidence of the actual transfer to the exchequer through bank statements and g-pay recordsâ€.
That means either the military got the money and spent it; or that when the auditors were camping at DoD as late as December 2014, the documents to show the money went into public coffers were not ready, and last month when the report was finalised, DoD had not accounted for the money.
When an official from the Office of the Auditor General visited DoD he realised Sh74 million was paid to officers said to have travelled to UK, Sweden, Canada, Cuba, South Korea, Malaysia, Oman and Kuwait, but after getting the money, they never reached the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi.
â€œAvailable information and records show the 42 officers did not travel outside the country during the purported period… no surrender vouchers have been availed for audit verification,â€ the Auditor General noted in his report that will be submitted to the National Assemblyâ€™s Public Accounts Committee.
The auditors also have queries about Sh31 million in imprest paid to clear military goods from Mombasa and accommodate a team from Serbia.
Thereâ€™s no record that the money was surrendered or used for the purpose, and therefore the auditors insist it was difficult for them to confirm the expenditure was â€œauthorised, lawful and that value for money was obtained.â€
â€œNo explanation has been given for the direct procurement of accommodation, transport and provision of food for the Yugo Import team (Serbians) through imprest,â€ the Auditor General noted in his report.
There is also another Sh56 million in imprest paid to officers to cater for hotel accommodation on their trips to Mombasa, Nakuru, Eldoret, Gilgil, Isiolo, Rwanda, France, Ethiopia, France, Tunisia, United Kingdom, South Sudan and China.
The auditors requests for vouchers to show that the money was used or surrendered, were ignored. They also queried the accountant who appears to be giving out the imprest despite a clear provision of law that no money should be given to anyone who has not cleared their balances.
â€œAlthough the government financial regulations and procedures require the accountant in charge of the imprest section to certify on the imprest warrant (form F O 24) that the applicant does not have an outstanding imprest and that he has recorded in the imprest register the amount of imprest applied for, the Ministry of Defence expensed imprests totaling Sh56,351,780 without imprest warrants and authorisation of the accounting officer,â€ the auditors noted in their report.
The accounting officer in the year under review was Dr Monica Juma, the current Principal Secretary for Interior and the nominee for Secretary to the Cabinet.
The current PS is Mutea Iringo, who is on suspension. The auditors also pointed out that whatever evidence the accountants at DoD had attached to support the payments â€œare not signedâ€ and therefore â€œit is not possible to confirm that the listed officers received and used the Sh56 million for hotel accommodation.â€
The auditors waited for an explanation and when the signed documents came, they realised that â€œthe same officers were receiving imprests using different identification card numbers in different payment vouchers.â€ Then there is a case in which per diem to four teams â€œin regional and local study toursâ€ was overpaid by Sh19 million, and when the auditors demanded an explanation, none was forthcoming; when they asked if the money had been recovered, they got no evidence.
Then there is Sh40 million spent under the National Space Secretariat, which so far, just exists on paper, but which has interestingly been allocated at least Sh500 million annually for the past three financial years. This year, it got Sh558 million and in the next financial year the National Space Secretariat hopes to get Sh605 million.
The Auditor General has questioned the wisdom of the National Treasury CS Henry Rotich and bosses at the military for consistently budgeting colossal amounts for a paper project. Thereâ€™s also Sh10 million spent on a book contract with Kenyatta University, which the auditors insist was done irregularly.