The riddle of the Sh9 billion National Youth Service scandal took a new twist on Friday after Public Service Principal Secretary Lilian Mbogo-Omollo said the money had not been lost, even as she admitted some suppliers remain unpaid.
Appearing before a National Assembly watchdog committee, Ms Omollo used Auditor-General Edward Ouko’s reports to defend her claim.
She also called on the officers responsible at the ministry and NYS to take individual responsibility for suspect payments made to companies that may have supplied nothing.
Ms Mbogo said a majority of the payments made were pending bills inherited from the previous financial years before she was appointed the PS in charge of NYS after the department was transferred from the Devolution Ministry to the Public Service.
Ms Omollo, who was appearing before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) along with NYS Director-General Richard Ndubai and State Department of Planning Principal Secretary Julius Muia, presented the 2016/17 latest report of Mr Ouko showing that no funds had been lost at NYS.
She told the committee chaired by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi that the report was presented to the ministry on May 8, 2018.
She added that she put in place a pending bills verification committee that has seen billions of money saved from suppliers, who had taken advantage of NYS.
“Key audit matters are those that in my professional judgment are of most significance in the audit of the financial statements. I have determined that there are no key audit matters to communicate in my report,” Mr Ouko says in the report.
The 2016/17 report is, however, yet to be tabled in the National Assembly.
The House rules require that it is tabled in the House before it is transmitted to PAC for consideration.
But the Public Finance Management Act provides that the Auditor-General can share the report with the relevant government ministry, department, State corporation or commission even before it is tabled in the House.
The auditor’s report is as at June 30, 2017, and it does not capture transactions done by NYS beyond this date.
As Ms Mbogo appeared before the committee, Mr James Thuita Nderitu, a director of Firstling Supplies Limited, a firm that was allegedly paid Sh1.3 billion in the fresh NYS scandal, and Mr Bernard Masiga, a senior finance officer at the Ministry of Public Service, were in court seeking anticipatory bails.
Justice Ngenye Macharia, after hearing the Directors of Public Prosecutions and Criminal Investigations as well as the Inspector-General of Police, ruled that the case was premature.
The duo wanted to be granted anticipatory bail before they are arrested and charged.
“I cannot hesitate to find that this application is unmerited, it does not meet the threshold for grant of anticipatory bail to the two, the same is dismissed,” Justice Ngenye said.
She added: “I urge them to be calm until such a time they shall be required to record a statement or will be summoned to assist with investigations.”
Two weeks ago, the PS said only Sh900 million could have been lost, and it was being investigated by government agencies.
But on Friday, she avoided mentioning the alleged loss of the Sh900 million.
She however admitted that over 5,000 payment claims from several suppliers valued at Sh10 billion as pending bills dating back to 2013/14 remain unpaid.
But she was not asked by the committee members whether indeed the individuals seeking payments supplied goods.