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Auditor-General’s report unearths graft in county assemblies

Massive scandals and fraud involving millions of shillings in public funds have been unearthed in various counties by Auditor-General Edward Ouko in his report for 2014/2015.

The report reveals that corruption is especially rife in county assemblies, where MCAs, who are supposed to play watchdog roles, are sometimes paid allowances for attending events at two places at the same time.

In Kisii, Mr Ouko queried the opening of three bank accounts for a county assembly mortgage fund, with Sh208 million of the money placed in troubled Chase Bank, whose selection he said was questionable.

Also in question is Sh2.8 million paid in allowances to 72 MCAs said to have been attending an inter-counties tournament in Nakuru between August 18 and August 28, 2014.

Mr Ouko revealed that another Sh1.8 million was paid to the same MCAs to attend a County Assemblies Forum meeting in Nairobi from August 22 to August 24.

“The two meetings were overlapping, resulting in overpayment of Sh1.4 million. The Kisii County Assembly management must initiate steps to recover the Sh1.4 million and strict procedures put in place to ensure claims and payments are only made for genuine travel,” he said.

In Wajir, the auditor-general detected massive theft through false mileage claims involving Sh24 million.

Homa Bay County Assembly had its fair share of scandals in the management of county cash that includes expenditure of Sh904,808 on unaccounted for fuel.

The assembly, led by Speaker Samuel Ochillo, also had its Sh72 million mortgage fund questioned as it was loaned out to members without security.

The report said Sh4.5 million loaned to two MCAs who died in February could not be recovered as there was no mechanism for this.

On car loans and mortgages, 22 Kirinyaga County Assembly members failed to repay Sh7.4 million.

LOSING FUNDS

“The county assembly risks losing funds from the scheme if defaulters are not properly managed. The interest income from outstanding loans to members of the scheme was credited to the capital fund,” the report stated.

The auditor is also questioning the logic behind the decision to open 20 bank accounts. “Further, there were no cash books maintained in the wards during the year. In addition, approval or authority from the county treasury was not sought when the 20 accounts were opened,” he said.

In Mombasa, the county assembly lost Sh704 million through dubious purchases, including inflated cost of supplies.

According to the report, Sh1.8 million was spent on 3,000 reams of paper at a cost of Sh600 each and auditors say these could have been bought for Sh442 each.

The county assembly also spent Sh24,000 to buy anti-virus software instead of Sh1,500.

In Nairobi, the auditor raised concern over Sh13 million spent on meals for MCAs, county assembly staff and officials.

The auditor also questioned the rates used by the county assembly to pay MCAs per diem during official trips to Kiambu and Nakuru.

Six MCAs, Mr Alfred Ambani, Mr David Kairu, Ms Petronila Nafula, Mr Isaac Ngige, Ms Victoria Alali and Mr Herman Azangu were each paid Sh16,800 instead of Sh10,500 as stipulated by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.

The auditor wants them compelled to refund the money or be surcharged.

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