Senate team approves Mara audit report, clears governor

DP William Ruto (right) chats with Narok Governor Samuel Tunai during the pastoralist leaders forum at Keekorok lodge in Narok county. [PHOTO/DPPS]

The Senate committee has adopted a special report by the Auditor General on the collection of revenue in the world famous Masai Mara Game Reserve.

The Special Audit Report of the Auditor General on allegations of control weakness in revenue collection by Narok County Government clears Governor Samuel Tunai’s government of any wrong-doing in the procurement of revenue collection provider Kenya Airport Services (KAPS) agent for the Eastern wing of the Maasai Mara National Reserve.

A monthly management report indicates that KAPS collected Sh1.3 billion to the county government in the six months under review, a significant improvement from the Sh1 billion collected in the same.

The report also confirms that the Mara Conservancy remits revenue to the county revenue accounts in circles of 15 days.

The report also notes that the termination of a contract of Equity Bank Limited, and the appointment of KAPS was done procedurally and “in accordance with law.”

“Due process was followed by the Narok County Government to procure the services of KAPs Ltd,” says the report. The termination of the Equity Bank Ltd service was effected after its smart revenue collection system malfunctioned and caused delays to tourists visiting the Mara.

Further, it says there was no evidence to support the claims of malpractice or revenue leakages from the country’s biggest tourist attraction. The audit was done after a petition by Narok Senator Stephen Ntutu. It was also established that claims of conflict of interest against Mr Tunai were unfounded because he ceased being a director of the Mara Conservancy long before he became governor.

Mara Conservancy was picked in 2001 by the defunct County Council of Trans Mara to “operate, promote, collect and maintain the Mara Triangle.” It utilises part of the revenues “to carry out operations” and remits the remainder to the county government.

The audit reveals that a provision for deduction of management fee charges and service before revenue is remitted to the County Revenue Collection accounts was rectified effective January this year following guidance from the National Treasury. The report also absolves county staff of any discrepancies that could occur as they reconcile the mainly manual system.

The Finance, Commerce and Budget Committee, on Thursday, recommended that the agreement with Mara Conservancy, which expired last month, be subjected to “adequate public participation.”

It also recommends that KAPs implements a system upgrade that is tamper-proof and the county government maintain revenue cashbooks for revenue collection and to ease reconciliation.