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How State 'paid' ghost volunteers Sh180m

COUNTIES
By Michael Ollinga | November 2nd 2015

The Kenya Future Leaders Programme (KFLP), launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta a year ago, may have led to the loss of Sh180 million, it has emerged.

Under the programme, volunteers were to be deployed to select counties to foster cohesion and teach in primary schools. But in a rather bizzare turn of events, the Government could have lost about Sh180 million in payments for ghost volunteers and allocations to families that never hosted volunteers.

Under KFLP, each Volunteer Graduate Assistant (VGA) was to be paid Sh6,000 per month and a family hosting them would get Sh3,000 for their upkeep. A report for KFLP for the Financial Year 2014-2015 shows that some Government officials may have inflated the cost of operations by 10 times to embezzle part of the Sh355 million earmarked for the youth project.

According to the volunteers, there was outright fraud in the programme popularly referred to as G-United where Government officials allegedly inflated the budget report by adding an extra zero for the stipend payments, monitoring and evaluation for VGAs and upkeep allowances for host families.

The budget, seen by The Standard, shows that instead of paying 138 volunteers, which would have cost Sh9.9 million for a year, State paid 175 VGAs in every county which totals to 1,400 people. With a monthly pay of Sh6,000, the total soared to Sh100.8 million in a year.

Ghost volunteers

"We were 138 VGAs that successfully completed the project, about 17 in eight counties, but the budget shows we were 1,400 volunteers with 175 in every county," Michael Oduor, a volunteer who was deployed to Kilifi County, said.

He added: "Basically they spend over Sh90 million to ghost volunteers."

The programme principles had stated that one would not work in their county of residence to promote cohesion and the VGAs were posted to schools in West Pokot, Busia, Kisumu, Kilifi, Nyeri, Machakos and Garissa where they helped children improve in early reading and mathematics skills.

Under the project that started in September last year with the objective of boosting education in primary schools, the number of families paid was also inflated from 138 to 1,400 to match the number of volunteers.

Therefore, instead of the Government paying Sh4.9 million to the hosting families, it paid Sh50 million for the entire project duration.

The budget further shows that transport allowances to places of deployment were paid to 1,400 volunteers at a rate of Sh5,000 per person, bringing the amount to Sh7 million instead of sh690,000 for the entire period. Insurance indemnity was paid at Sh1,500 per volunteer once and it added up to Sh2.1 million instead of Sh207,000 for the actual 138 volunteers.

Some Sh35.7 million was used for monitoring and evaluation where each of the 1,400 volunteers is said to have been evaluated six times. Each visit was rated at Sh4,250 but most VGAs said they had a maximum of two visits. Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang did not respond to our calls or text messages.

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