Public servants in ministries and State agencies are still bypassing strict financial management rules to make away with millions of shillings meant for imprest.
The latest audit report of the Government’s books of account by Auditor General Edward Ouko shows that outstanding or unaccounted for petty cash tripled from Sh117.6 million in the 2014/15 financial year to Sh350.98 million in the 2015/16 financial year.
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The heads of the public offices failed to deduct the amounts from the culprits’ salaries.
“Review of management of imprest indicates that imprest continues to remain unaccounted for at the end of the financial year. Failure to account for imprest on due date is in contravention of Government regulations,” said Mr Ouko in his report.
The imprest fund, which is sometimes called imprest account, petty cash account, or petty cash fund, is supposed to be a self-checking account where a fixed balance is maintained through regular replenishment and is used for paying small and routine operating expenses.
Failing to surrender the imprest is contrary to the 2013 circular by the National Treasury, which requires imprest to be surrendered or accounted for within seven working days following return from official assignments. It is also in breach of the 2015 Public Financial Management Regulation. “No explanation has, however, been provided for failure by the management to compel staff to surrender the imprest or recover the same from their salaries,” notes the report.
The Devolution and Planning Ministry was one of the biggest culprits, with an outstanding imprest of Sh27.7 million, out of which Sh26.6 million was overdue.
In the State Department of Devolution, Sh1.32 million is outstanding, with Sh203,200 having been issued to employees who have since left the department.
In addition, imprest and advances of Sh129.9 million issued to various county commissioners on account of humanitarian aid were not properly accounted for.
Other petty cash uncounted for under the ministry included Sh10.6 million under the Natural Resource Management Programme and Sh2.3 million connected to a flood mitigation project in western Kenya.
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Further, imprest totalling Sh683,678 has been outstanding in addition to Sh3.2 million issued to officers who had not accounted for previous issues.
The Sh696,560 that was recovered from various officers’ salaries in respect of unsurrendered imprest may also have been stolen.