Dismiss fund team, Uhuru urged

Monday March 28 2016

Youth Enterprise Development Fund Chairman Bruce Odhiambo appears before the National Assembly Public Investment Committee at Parliament Buildings on March 1, 2016 in Nairobi. Mr Odhiambo sacked on April 12, 2016. PHOTO | ROBERT NGUGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Youth Enterprise Development Fund Chairman Bruce Odhiambo appears before the National Assembly Public Investment Committee at Parliament Buildings on March 1, 2016 in Nairobi. Mr Odhiambo sacked on April 12, 2016. PHOTO | ROBERT NGUGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JOHN NJAGI
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Pressure is mounting on President Uhuru Kenyatta to send home the board of the Youth Enterprise Development Fund (YEDF), following claims that it failed to prevent loss of Sh180 million.

A parliamentary watchdog, the Public Investment Committee (PIC) and the Inspectorate of State Corporations have recommended that the board steps aside to pave way for independent investigations.

However, six months after the scandal first came to light, the board is still in office, despite recommendations to the president, to send its nine members packing and pave way for investigations by the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC), among other agencies.

The board chairperson Bruce Odhiambo resigned on Friday.

Youth Affairs and Gender Cabinet Secretary, Sicily Kariuki, told PIC last week that recommendations to have the board step aside had been made to President Kenyatta, but he was yet to act on the recommendations.

“We have advised the President, through the Head of Public Service, that the entire board of the youth fund be suspended to pave the way for investigations,” she told the committee.

The board and management led by Mr Bruce Odhiambo and suspended Chief Executive Officer Ms Catherine Namuye, has been accused during hearings by PIC, chaired by Eldas MP Adan Keynan that it failed to exercise due care in preventing the loss of the funds.

The money was meant to assist the youth start small businesses to address widespread poverty.

Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua was scheduled to appear before the committee this week but sent a letter addressed to the Clerk of the National Assembly, asking for more time as “he had just landed back in the country and required more time to prepare a response to the questions the committee had raised.”

Mr Keynan this week asked the group led by chairman of the Audit committee of the YEDF board, Mr Nicholas Mwaniki, whether they were willing to step aside to “save their own reputation and pave the way for independent investigations in public interest”. They all answered in the affirmative.

“This does not in any way mean that you are culpable. The committee has not reach that stage yet. I am asking you, in the face of what has happened at the YEDF, if you are willing to resign from your positions.”

Mr Odhiambo and Ms Namuye are said to have colluded to make the latter a sole signatory to the fund’s Chase Bank account.

The was in violation of the Public Finance Management Act, which provides that only a board resolution can approve change of signatories.