Ouko says maritime agency board members’ perks irregular

The Auditor-General has put the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) on the spot, saying it irregularly spent millions of shillings on directors’ costs, media advertising and travel allowances.

Edward Ouko says the KMA paid sitting allowances totalling Sh4.4 million to several board members to attend Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK) shows, Kecoso games and boat launches in Kisumu and Lamu, which are administrative functions for execution by management.

“Consequently, the propriety and regularity of board of directors costs totalling Sh4.4 million for the year ended June 30, 2016 could not be confirmed,” Mr Ouko says in his latest report tabled in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

He said the financial statements reflected a balance of Sh48.2 million in respect of the board of directors’ costs for the year under review.

“Analysis of the expenditure revealed that the board held 30 sittings during the financial year and as a result, meeting costs rose by Sh31.2 million or 184 per cent of the expenditure balance of Sh17 million reported in the year 2014/15.

“In addition, examination of expenditure records revealed that sitting allowances totaling Sh4.4 million were paid to several board members but minutes of the meetings were not presented for audit,” Mr Ouko said.

Mr Ouko questioned the expenditure of Sh66.2 million paid as duty travel allowance in the year under review.

“Expenditure under the account increased by Sh34.4 million or 108 per cent of the balance of Sh31.8 million reported in the previous year (2014/15) financial year,” Mr Ouko said.

He said records presented for audit revealed that foreign travel allowances totalling Sh13.5 million were paid to various staff without evidence of travel authority from the principal secretary of the parent ministry.

“This was contrary to the Revised Code of Regulations, 2006 and circular OP/CAB.9/9 by the Head of Public Service which require officers travelling abroad to seek clearance from the Principal Secretary of the parent Ministry,” Mr Ouko said.

On publicity and awareness campaigns, Mr Ouko said KMA spent Sh64.9 million without following government regulations on placement of media advertisements.

“…Audit verification revealed that the payments were made to various media firms for print, out-door and television advertisements contrary to  circular ref. MIC/G/2/4 dated March 3, 2016 by the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology which required all government entities to place their advertisements through the Government Advertising Agency,” the auditor said.

Mr Ouko said there were no documentary evidence showing that the media firms were identified and selected in accordance with the requirements of the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, 2015.

“The authority breached government regulations on placement of media advertisements and as a result, the propriety and regularity of publicity and awareness expenditure balance of Sh64,890,008 for the year ended June 30, 2016 cannot be ascertained,” Mr Ouko said.

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