alexa Audit report queries mess in upper eastern counties - Daily Nation

Audit report queries mess in upper eastern counties

Saturday January 11 2020

Tharaka Nithi County offices

Tharaka Nithi County offices in Kathwana. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

AMINA WAKO
By AMINA WAKO
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Tharaka Nithi facilitated and sponsored the county’s woman representative to attend a meeting in New York, US, audit report shows.

The funds consisted of Sh867,290 for per diem and Sh962,597 for air tickets.

“Though the passport for the woman representative showed that she exited Kenya on March 12, 2018 and came back to Kenya on March 19, 2018, there were no air tickets, boarding passes and certificate of participation to confirm that the MP attended the 62nd Commission on Status of Women (CSW) in New York CSW,” former Auditor General Edward Ouko says in the report.

Further, the passport showed that she was out of Kenya for seven days while she had been paid per diem for 13 days, Mr Ouko said.

During the year under review, Tharaka Nithi County Executive recruited a county revenue director and assistant director accountant general who, however, did not meet the qualifications as required by the advertisement in the dailies.

One of the minimum requirements for the position of County Revenue Director is that he should be a holder of Public Accountants’ of Kenya certificate (CPA K). However, records available indicate that the position was filled by an officer who had a Master's degree in finance.

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Further, the advert for the Assistant Director Accountant General required the applicant to have a Bachelor’s degree, be affiliated to a professional body and have a Master’s degree. However, the records available indicated that the officer recruited had a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting option) and an Oracle certified specialist.

They incurred an expenditure of Sh 30 million concerning the basic wages of temporary employees. However, the respective supporting documents including the user department’s requisitions for the casual workers, application letters, personal files, engagement letters, copies of identity cards and certificates whereby skilled employees were recruited were not made available for audit. 

The audit revealed that in the year under review the county paid Sh 363,989 as salary to an employee who had two personnel files and who was paid a double salary for ten (10) months from November 2017 to August 2018 totalling Sh363,989.

An analysis of the payroll revealed that as officers were paid commuter allowance comprising of Sh17,419 paid in December 2017 and Sh20,000 each from January 2018 to June 2018. However, records available indicated that during the said period, the officers were allocated and utilized County Executive vehicles for official use.

An amount of Sh1 million was paid as a pending bill concerning fuel supplied to the County Executive in the financial year 2014/2015. However, this expenditure on pending bills did not have a budgetary provision and it was also not supported by fuel registers.

County Officers were paid in cash airtime allowances amounting to Sh247,000 which was not supported by a signed beneficiaries list confirming receipt of the air time cash allowance.

During the audit, the county did not produce logbooks for 223 vehicles consisting of motor vehicles, motorcycles, and trailers.

Also, the county development plan showed that the County Executive possessed land within the County. However, the respective title deeds/allotment letters were not presented for audit.

“In the circumstances, the existence, value, ownership, and security of the fixed assets balance of Sh4.1 billion as of 30 June 2018 could not be ascertained,” said Mr. Ouko.

The county did not present the payment vouchers and original documentation of pending bills amounting to Sh.417 million.

A contractor was paid Sh.3.2 million for additional works at the governor’s offices. However, the contractor was not in the County Executive’s list of registered contractors contrary to Section 57 (1) of the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, 2015.

The county paid Sh.4.8 million to the Council of Governors as operational expenditure. However, the expenditure is contrary to Section 37 of the Intergovernmental Relations Act 2012 which indicates that any expenditure related to the Council of Governors should be met by the National Government.

The county had an outstanding imprest of Sh 19 million. However, review of the imprest register revealed applicants were issued with multiple imprests at the same time contrary to Regulation 93(4b) of Public Finance Management (county governments) Regulations, 2015.

MARSABIT COUNTY

Nine registers used in the collection of land rates were last updated in September 2015. These registers reflect the outstanding land rates balance of Sh.19 million.

“Management has not explained strategies put in place to collect the amount,” Mr. Ouko noted.

The County of Marsabit used Sh3 million for the supply and delivery of assorted revision textbooks. However, no store records including ledger cards in support of the supplies were presented for audit.

An amount of Sh60 million was transferred to the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) for medical cover. However, the respective supporting documents and schedules were not presented for audit.

An audit of the personnel records and the payroll showed that the Executive had a total staff of 2312. However, management had not prepared a personnel establishment document and this was contrary to the requirements of Section 5 (2) (F) of the County Government Act, 2012 which requires County Governments to establish and staff its public service.

“The County Government, therefore, engaged staff without proper mechanisms of identifying the existence of vacancies during the year under review,” the former Auditor General noted.

An audit of the Executive’s payroll revealed that two employees reached the retirement age of 60 years as of 1 July 2015 and 1 January 2012 respectively. However, the two continued to be in the payroll during the year which ended on June 30, 2018.

 The County paid a total of Sh1.3 million to an employee who was still employed by another public entity which was in contravention of the Public Officers Act 2003 and Leadership and Integrity Act, 2012 Chapter 26 on gainful employment. Further, the officer’s file did not have an application letter for the post of County Advisor

An amount of Sh.11 million was paid out to various prequalified contractors to carry out works at Bongole Tourist Resort. The works included the construction of a kitchen, completion of laundry, reception block, temporary staff house, and ablution block. Other works were Landscaping, fencing, rainwater harvesting, and piping works.

However, a physical inspection of the facility carried out on 5 November 2018 revealed that the resort had not been operationalized despite having been fully completed and furnished.

An amount of Sh.11 million was paid out for supplies of various assorted items during the year under review which included motor vehicle tyres, tubes, printing papers, cartridges, branded caps, and t-shirts.

However, documents like tender opening and evaluation minutes, letters of offer, inspection and acceptance reports and updated store records were not presented for audit.

ISIOLO COUNTY

The County made irregular payments from the revenue collection account amounting to Sh 36 million. The amount was paid directly from the account to different payees due to court orders against the County Executive contrary to Section 63 (4), (7) and 80 of the Public Finance Management (county government) Regulations 2015 which require that no money should be paid or used before banking to County Exchequer Account.

Further, court orders and supporting documents for the expenditures were not provided for audit.

The review of receipts books report not surrendered from Local Authorities Integrated Financial Operations Management Systems (LAIFOMS) revealed that receipts books with a face value of Sh.12 million issued between 27 January 2012 and 30 June 2018 had not been surrendered and accounted for.

During the audit, the County failed to produce supporting documents for expenditure amounting to Sh455 million contrary to Regulations 99 (3), 104(1) and 117(3) of the Public Finance Management.

The county used Sh4.4 million for night outs and lunch allowances. However, the expenditure was not supported with work tickets/bus tickets, invitation letters, designations and job group of payees, a program of activities, attendance register and back to office reports.

An amount of Sh.4.3 million spent on the purchase of fuel was not recorded in the fuel register. Further, work tickets and detailed orders showing how the fuel was consumed were not provided for audit.

The financial statements reflected pending accounts payable balance of Sh.1, 201,944,526 as of June 30, 2018. However, a list of pending bills submitted for audit reflected bills totaling Sh.1 billion resulting in an unexplained balance of Sh.180 million.

The county spent Sh197 million spent in respect of civil works which was not properly supported since tender documents, measurements of work done and certificates of practical completion were not availed for audit verification.

Further, the County used Sh39 million to hire motor vehicles during the year under review. However, the expenditure was not supported since details of journeys taken and reasons for hire of the motor vehicles were not provided.

Under the purchase of goods and services, the County used Sh95 million. However; the expenditures were not supported by quotations, and evaluation committee minutes and stores record showing to whom the goods were issued.

The County hired the service of a consultancy firm and paid Sh35 million. However, the expenditure is not supported by approved reports, minutes approving the draft and final report of consultancy undertaken and progress report on the implementation of recommendations from the consultancy reports.

The County Executive operated a revenue dollar account at the Consolidated Bank, contrary to the provisions of Section 76 (2) of the Public Finance Management (county government) regulations which require all foreign currency designated bank accounts should be held at the Central Bank.

The audit report also noted that the County held Sh34 million in the Bursary Fund Account as of June 30, 2018. However, no explanation was provided as to why this balance was not issued as a bursary to needy students in the County contrary to Regulation 83 (1) (c) of the Public Finance Management (County Government) Regulations, 2015 which require county treasury to avoid an accumulation of idle balances.

Review of personal records revealed that five (5) officers were earning salaries and allowances which exceeded their scales entitlement by Sh1, 444,214 contrary to Section C.2 (1) of the Human Resource Policies and Procedures Manual for the Public Service which states that the public service salary structure will be based on the grading levels spelled out in the various career progression guidelines.

An amount of Sh 27 million was recorded as outstanding imprest. However, officers were being issued with additional imprest before surrendering the imprest previously held by them contrary to Section 93 (4) (b) of Public Finance Management (County Government) Regulation 2015, which requires that before issuing temporary imprest, an applicant should not have outstanding imprests.

The former Auditor-General also queried the expenditure of Sh246 million incurred by the county for Emergency Relief and Refugee Assistance. He noted that the quotations, tenders, evaluation committee minutes showing how the suppliers were procured were not provided for audit.

MERU COUNTY

The County paid a merchant Sh2.5 million paid to supply 1,000 ECO-Tosha materials for earthworms for the year ended 30 June 2018.

However, no documentary evidence was presented for audit to show that the materials had been delivered at the end of the audit in November 2018.

Pending bills relating to construction of buildings totaling to Sh.1.7 billion were not supported by payment vouchers and no certificates of work done were made available for audit verification.

The County incurred training expenses amounting to Sh 59 million for the year that ended June 30, 2018. However, there were no approvals from the Human Resource Management and Advisory Committees for the County Executive to sponsor the officers for the courses in different institutions.

Further, the County Executive had not done the training need assessments to ascertain the areas of training priority. Besides, traveling details to show how the officers got to the training centers or institutions and certificates of participation/attendance were not made available for audit.

An expenditure of Sh22 million which was partly used for fuel, oil, and lubricants has no evidence on approvals. Some amount of the above was spent without certification by the AIE holders. Besides, an expenditure of Sh.7.7 million spent through the Department of Roads, Transport and Energy were not supported by delivery notes, motor vehicle work tickets and fuel register(s).

The Auditor noted unsupported domestic travel amounting to Sh.6.3 million. It was paid without supporting documents including signed attendance schedules, invitation letters, back to office reports and evidence of travel.

The County paid the Council of Governors Sh8.1 million as operational expenses. However, Section 37 of the Inter-Governmental Relations Act 2012 states that all operational expenses of the Council of Governors should be met by the National Government.

Bank accounts holding Sh223 million which were held at Commercial banks were operated contrary to the Public Finance Management (County Governments) Regulations, 2015 Section 82 (1) (b) which stipulates that all County Government bank accounts shall be opened at the Central Bank of Kenya except for imprest bank accounts for petty cash. No reasons were given as to why the County Executive of Meru was operating the twenty-one (21) accounts in commercial banks.

An analysis of the ethnic composition of 4,584 employees of the County Executive of Meru in the year under review revealed that out of the total 4,584 employees, 4,032 (88%) workforce was from the dominant ethnic community in the County contrary to Section 7 (2) of National Cohesion and Integration Act, 2008.

Scrutiny of IFMIS payment vouchers for the year under review revealed 745 vouchers worth KSh.772 million had duplicate vouchers.

“In the circumstances, the accuracy and completeness of the County Executive’s data could not be ascertained,” the Auditor General noted.

EMBU COUNTY

The County of Embu did not present documentary evidence of Sh72 million for audit verification. Also, cash books, 26 bank reconciliations statements, and 6 bank confirmation certificates were not provided for audit.

Prior year adjustments balance of Sh470 million whose respective supporting documentary evidence was not presented for audit. This is contrary to Regulation 103 (2) of the Public Finance Management (County Governments) Regulations, 2015 which requires adjustments to be supported by sufficient explanations, authorizations, and documentation.

Casual employees in the County were paid Sh14 million during the year under review. However, no supporting documents including the master roll were presented in support for an audit.

An amount of Sh19 million was used for fuel whose records on usage including the fuel register for all departments, suppliers’ reconciliation statements, and other relevant supporting documents were not presented for audit.

Officers carrying out surveys and planning of Mwea Settlement Scheme. However, letters of appointment for the surveyors, date the program was to run, report of the survey and approvals for the process to commence were not presented for audit verification. Scrutiny of the bank statements revealed that the Sh22 million was paid in cash to three individuals at a rate of Sh9.9 million, Sh6.6 million and Sh6.3 million respectively. However, it was not clarified who the payees were and the reasons why the funds were not transferred to the specific officers’ bank accounts.

The audit revealed that the County had outstanding uncollected rents from houses and stalls belonging to the county amounting to Sh337 million. The rents have remained outstanding from the five (5) Sub Counties since the year 2015 and no measures appeared to have been undertaken by the County Executive in collecting the arrears.

The county paid salaries amounting to Sh 20 million using manual payroll instead of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Database (IPPD). However, management explanation that newly recruited employees normally experience delays in obtaining personal numbers was not supported. 

The county had imprests amounting to Sh.82 million that were outstanding for more than 6 months contrary to Regulation 93 (5) of the Public Finance Management (County Governments) Regulations, 2015 which requires imprest to be surrendered within seven working days.

A contractor was paid Sh 9.9 million for the construction of Kavutiri coffee factory road vide contract agreement dated 3 May 2018. A physical verification done in October 2018 revealed that the construction had stalled as the contractor was not on-site and it was not possible to confirm the percentage of works done as no certificate of valuation was presented for audit.

Further another contractor was awarded a contract at a sum of Sh54 million for the upgrading to bitumen standards of Mbiruri Nduuri Junction road. However, the engineer’s estimate was KSh.47 million leading to a variance of Sh7.2 million (15 percent). No documents were made available to show why the contract was awarded at a sum above the engineer’s estimate.

The county spent Sh6 million to hire equipment for the maintenance of Muvuria ward roads. However, no procurement documents were presented for audit. Further, Sh487,200 was paid for a water bowser but the relevant supporting documents were not presented. Also, physical verification could not be carried out as the specific roads maintained by the hired machinery were not individually identified.