MPs have now summoned Sports Principal Secretary (PS) ambassador Kirimi Kaberia over the Sh1.7 billion 2017 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) world under 18 youth championship scandal.
Mr Kaberia is required before the National Assembly Public Accounts Committee (PAC) alongside other ministry officials involved in the management of the funds for the tournament that was held in Nairobi from July 12- 16, 2017.
Addressing journalists at Parliament buildings, the watchdog committee chairman Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja), said the PS and the ministry officials responsible will appear before the committee on Monday next week to explain how the government may have lost the billions just within four days of the tournament.
“Because of the public interest generated on this matter, they (ministry officials) must come and respond to the queries without fail,” Mr Wandayi said on Wednesday adding; “the figures involved are not ordinary, they are not small, they are huge”
The ministry is accused of misappropriating the funds, part of the Sh3.5 billion the government pumped into the ministry to prepare for the IAAF Under-18 World Youth Championship last year.
Auditor General Edward Ouko unearthed the plunder in his July 10, 2018 audit report tabled in the National Assembly by the Leader of Majority Aden Duale.
According to Mr Ouko, the State department for Sports and development was allocated Sh1.7 billion, Sports Kenya Sh1.1 billion with Kenyatta University, which provided accommodation facilities to the athletes getting Sh689.6 million.
A local organising committee of the Sports department, government organisations, security departments and other stakeholders involved in the management of the funds will also have a day with the House committee.
Mr Ouko has questioned the expenditure saying it was wrought with procurement irregularities and irregular pending bills of about Sh138.2 million. The report came just a month after IAAF handed Kenya the rights to host the 2020 IAAF World Athletics Under-20 Championships.
This followed what was, on the surface, a largely successful World Under-18 Championships, with a record 60,000 fans thronging Kasarani Stadium.
LOOKING AT REPORT
On Tuesday, Mr Kaberia said in a telephone interview that he will only give a statement after looking at the report that has been out since July 10, 2018.
According to the law, the auditor-general is required to send the reports to the relevant agencies before they are sent to Parliament. This means that the ministry may have been notified before the report got its way to the House.
This came even as Mr Kaberia said that Kenya could not have successfully hosted such a high magnitude event had Sh1.7 billion been lost from a budget of Sh3.5.
“It’s simply not possible, considering the amount of work that was put into the event,” Mr Kaberia said.
World Under-18 Chief Executive officer Mwangi Muthee, who spoke on phone from London, said all the procurement and accounting procedures were done by officers from Sports ministry.
“We only recommended, but it’s the ministry and Sports Kenya who decided who to engage or pay,” explained Mr Muthee, who is also expected to have a date with the watchdog committee said.
The 2017 World Under-18 Championship Local Organising Committee (LOC) chairman Jackson Tuwei has distanced his committee from the scandal.
Mr Tuwei described the development as unfortunate if half of the money that was allocated for the world youth event was plundered.
He said that a finance sub-committee which included procurement officers from the ministry of Sports was solely in charge of financial transactions involving the event.
“My LOC didn’t have any account hence we can’t really explain in details if money was misappropriated or not,” said mr Tuwei, who is also the Athletics Kenya president. He said that PAC and other security organs must investigate to ascertain what really happened.
Efforts to get comments from former Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario proved futile.
Additional reporting by Ayumba Ayodi