Counties paid Sh15b wage through manual systems and vouchers, says audit

Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o.  [David Njaaga, Standard]

Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o has called on county governments to fast-track the acquisition of staff personal numbers to ensure the entire wage bill is processed through the prescribed system.

Dr Nyakang’o in the recently released County Governments Annual Budget Review Report for the Financial Year 2021-2022 noted that counties continue to process wages through manual systems and vouchers.

The Office of the Controller of Budget noted that wages amounting to Sh15.63 billion were processed through manual systems and vouchers in the reviewed financial year.

By using the manual systems, counties she said contravened government policy that requires wages to be processed through the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Database (IPPD) system.

“County governments cited lack of Personal Numbers for failing to process all salaries in the IPPD system. This is contrary to Government policy, which requires wages to be processed through the IPPD system,” read the audit in part.

The Controller of Budget advised county governments to ensure the entire wage bill is processed through the prescribed personnel system.

The manual payroll, the Controller of Budget noted, is prone to abuse and may lead to the loss of public funds due to a lack of proper controls. County governments, she said, are required to migrate to the Unified Human Resource Information System by October 1, in line with the guidelines by the Head of Public Service.

The review report revealed that Bomet County paid Sh1.24 billion in wages through the manual system, hence the leading.

Counties with the highest wage payments made through the manual system include Nakuru (Sh1.06 billion), Garissa (Sh1.03 billion),  Vihiga (Sh934.89 million), Siaya (Sh792.55 million), Kiambu (Sh776.11 million), Homa Bay (Sh694.33 million), Laikipia (Sh646.68 million), Kisumu (Sh515.30 million) and Murang’a (Sh504.12 million).

Counties, the report revealed, had accumulated pending bills amounting to Sh153.02 billion, comprising Sh151.68 billion by the County Executive and Sh1.34 billion by the county assemblies.

“Outstanding pending bills by Nairobi City County accounted for 69.5 per cent of the entire stock of pending bills at Sh99.06 billion,” read the report.

Other Counties with a high level of pending bills are Mombasa at Sh5.87 billion and Kiambu at Sh5.23 billion. Mandera County Executive did not report any outstanding pending bills.

Counties it was revealed continue to spend more on recurrent expenditure as compared to on development.

Recurrent expenditure the report revealed was at Sh302.49 billion, representing 88.4 per cent of the annual recurrent budget, while development expenditure amounted to Sh98.47 billion.

The recurrent expenditure comprised Sh190.11 billion on Personnel Emoluments and Sh112.38 billion on Operations and Maintenance.

The expenditure on development projects, the report revealed represents an absorption rate of 50.9 per cent and a decline from 62.1 per cent attained in the FY 2020/21 when total development expenditure was Sh116.07 billion.

A total of 17 counties, it was revealed, recorded an absorption rate of less than 50 per cent of development expenditure. They included Garissa, Nairobi City, Kisumu, Machakos, Taita/Taveta, Narok, Vihiga, Busia, Kilifi, Mombasa, Turkana, Nyandarua, Murang’a, Baringo, Bungoma, Kisii and Laikipia.

County assemblies it was revealed spent Sh2.01 billion on MCA’s sitting allowances against an approved budget allocation of Sh2.47 billion during the reporting period.

County assemblies that recorded the highest average monthly sitting allowance per MCA were Migori at Sh160,112, Homa Bay at Sh138,674 and Kisii at Sh126,079.