Courts & Law Finance Politics Uncategorized

Full And Spilling: Kiambu County On The Spot Over Expensive Phones And Calling Cards

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The County government of Kiambu is on the spot again for what is seen as alleged gross irregular purchase of mobile phones at a cost between Sh84, 000 and Sh198,000 each.

There are also claims of fake allowances for county staff and stipends for attendees during public holidays, and irregular allowances for Ward Reps where over Sh100 million could have been lost are threatening to dent Kiambu County administration.

The Auditor-General, Nancy Gathungu in a damming preliminary report dubbed “management letter” against the Governor James Nyoro-led administration for the 2019-2020 expenditure, and which has obtained by the media also indicates that the county spent Sh19.5 million on airtime.

According to the confidential report dated December 30, 2020, authored by W.K. Kamula on behalf of Nancy Gathungu, the county bought 11 phones at a cost of Sh1.69 million, an amount the auditors said was above the Sh80,000 for each phone as recommended by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC).

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The phones include two iPhone XS (max) at a cost of Sh198, 440 each, an iPhone X at a cost of Sh198, 000, and an Ipad at a cost of Sh170, 689, two Samsung S10 at a cost of Sh146, 160 each, a Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and an Ipad pro at a cost of Sh145, 000 each, and a Samsung Galaxy S4 at a cost of Sh84, 100.

“The list of whom the mobile phones were issued to was not provided for audit. The store records; S3, S11, S12, and S13 for the phones were not provided for audit, as such, it could not be confirmed whether the mobile phones were recorded/entered in the stores,” reads part of the report.

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The report was sent to the County Executive Committee Member of Finance Mburu Kangethe, and according to the Office of the Auditor-General, “the purpose of this letter is to bring to your attention the findings that were revealed during the audit.”

The report, which was supposed to remain a guarded secret, was leaked on Monday evening by Ward Reps who have been unhappy with the governor, triggering a crisis meeting that brought together County Executive Committee members, Chief Officers, and top accountants.

Peter Opiyo, the head of communication at the Office of the Auditor-General, when contacted told a local media outlet that the office cannot comment on an audit management letter “because it means that the audit process was ongoing” and sometimes the issues raised may be dealt with later.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s home county will also have to defend itself alleged unsupported expenditure and unprocedural procurement of airtime and data bundles. According to the auditors, the authenticity of cash purchases of airtime for Sh19,528,653 that was incurred could not be confirmed.

Further, a requisition of Sh18.3 million shillings was made and allegedly issued to various officers as imprests advanced to facilitate various events in the county but auditors established that some of the people who were listed as attendees did not attend.

During the audit, the report says that a list of participants had the names, cell phone numbers and signatures of the participants.

“However, a random selection of the cell phone numbers and subsequent calls to the cell phone number, the recipients of the calls confirmed non-attendance of the events,” said the report, noting that the risk was “loss of funds through embezzlement”.

Other than that, during the Jamhuri Day celebrations held on December 12, 2019, an imprest of Sh1.152 million was allegedly advanced to one Simon Nganga Nyaga in order to buy lunch for the people at a cost of Sh1,500 stipend each.

“However, through a random call of the cellphone numbers in the list, the recipients of the calls denied ever attending the Jamhuri Day celebrations. Further, the recipient of the calls also denied ever receiving payments from the county,” the report indicated.

Another Sh952, 000 was advanced during the Mashujaa Day celebrations but a random contact to the said beneficiaries revealed otherwise after auditors established that none of them attended the event, suggesting that the cash may have been pocketed by some county officials.

The report has also flagged the county for paying irregular Sh62 million to MCAs and County Assembly staff to finance workshops and retreats in Mombasa and Naivasha.

This, the report said is illegal for the executive to fund MCAs who are supposed to oversight the county because the County Assembly has its own budget which should have been used to cater for such expenses as per the finance management regulations.

The payments included Sh10 million-allowance payment to MCAs who attended a health capacity building workshop in Mombasa between January 5 and 11, 2020, when Nyoro was the acting governor after his predecessor was barred from accessing office and impeached by the County Assembly.

Approximately Sh11 million was paid for a workshop in Mombasa in October 2019, Sh9 million for a budgetary meeting, Sh3 million or a Naivasha seminar, with auditors raising concerns that MCAs may have never attended the events or received double payments-from the executive and assembly.

“The MCA’s might have been paid allowances for meetings that were not existent…allowances paid were unbudgeted for and unjustified…double payment of allowances may happen as the MCA’s might also have been paid from the county assembly budget,” notes the report.