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Senate team to question 33 governors over spending of taxpayers’ money

COUNTIES
By Wilfred Ayaga | April 5th 2018
14 governors serving a second term will defend their performance in the Senate in the face of county spending queries flagged by the Auditor General while 19 others will shoulder the burden of predecessors. [Photo by Willis Awandu/Standard]

Fourteen governors serving a second term will, beginning this month, defend their performance in the Senate in the face of county spending queries flagged by the Auditor General.

They are among 33 county heads expected to appear before the Senate Public Accounts and Investment Committee (PAIC) for questioning, sessions that have in the past kicked up a storm as governors accuse senators of using the forum to settle political scores.

While the 14 will be answerable to acts of omission and commission under their watch, the other 19 first-term governors will shoulder the burden of their predecessors, who lost in the last elections.

Some of the queries include Sh72 million spent by Machakos MCAs to attend a ploughing championship in Bordeaux France.

On the back of protests over garbage heaps in parts of Mombasa town, the Auditor General has questioned Sh289 million unsupported expenditure paid to a garbage collection firm.

In Meru, the county assembly paid Sh3 million as registration for a conference in Dallas, Texas, in the US but the MCAs arrived on the last day of the meeting.

In Homa Bay, the county government could not account for money used to buy land for buidling “Gor Mahia Stadium”.

In Kakamega, under a programme known as ‘Oparanya Care’ targeting pregnant mothers, money was deposited into beneficiaries’ accounts long after the mothers had delivered.

Last Friday, Senate Clerk Jeremiah Nyegenye issued a notice requiring the governors to appear before the Senate committee for questioning on diverse dates between April and July.

Oversight mandate

“In exercise of its mandate of oversight over county public accounts and investment, the Senate Sessional Committee on County Public Accounts and Investments informs and invites the Chief Executives of the entities listed in Schedule of the Sittings for the months of April, May, June and July 2018,” read the notice published on Friday.

Current governors who were in office when counties failed to account for public funds are Jackson Mandago (Uasin Gishu), Hassan Joho (Mombasa), Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega), Ali Roba (Mandera), Salim Mvurya (Kwale), Alfred Mutua (Machakos), Mwangi wa Iria (Murang’a), Moses Lenolkulal (Samburu), John Nyagarama (Nyamira), Patrick Khaemba (Trans Nzoia) and Martin Wambora (Embu).

Others are Cornel Rasanga (Siaya), Kivutha Kibwana (Makueni) and Hussein Dhadho (Tana River).

Those who will respond to queries that arose during their predecessors’ terms are Mutahi Kahiga (Nyeri), Joyce Laboso (Bomet), Stanley Kiptis (Baringo), Abdi Kuti (Isiolo), Granton Samboja (Taita Taveta), Ali Korane (Garissa) and Dhadho Godhana (Tana River).

Others are Charity Ngilu (Kitui), John Lonyangapuo (West Pokot), Mike Mbuvi (Nairobi), Anne Waiguru (Kirinyaga), Kiraitu Murungi (Meru), Wycliffe Wangamati (Bungoma), Francis Kimemia (Nyandarua) and Muthomi Njuki (Tharaka Nithi)

The 2014-2015 audit reports question possible massive wastage and misappropriation of funds in the counties. Hundreds, possibly thousands of supporting documents could not be provided when auditors asked for them, meaning the Auditor General’s office could not vouch for prudent use of the funds in the devolved units.

So serious were some of the queries that the Auditor General was unable to offer any opinion. In some of the counties, auditors gave an adverse opinion meaning that the queries were so serious and the financial accounts misrepresented, misstated and did not accurately reflect the specific counties’ financial performance and health.

Mr Mandago will, for example, be asked to explain why his county over-spent its budget by Sh87 million during the year under review, and circumstances under which the county failed to deposit Sh133 million in local revenue into the county revenue fund.

Mr Joho will be questioned on, among other issues, why more than Sh500 million in revenue was never transferred to the county revenue account while Dr Mutua will be asked to account for millions of shillings spent on sinking boreholes that did not yield water.

Implement projects

In Murang’a, the county government used imprest to implement projects and procure goods and services, while in Nyamira Mr Nyagarama will be interrogated on, among others, Sh196 million county health facilities revenue omitted from the books.

Most of the counties such as West Pokot and Laikipia owed millions in pending bills and imprest. The audit queries arose mainly because accounting officers were unable to provide supporting documents when asked to.

The committee has slotted in Makueni, Murang’a, Mandera and Mombasa for questioning on April 16-19.

Samburu, Kwale, Embu, Machakos Kakamega, Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia and Homa Bay are the second group of counties to appear before the Senate team.

Nyeri, Garissa, Isiolo, Meru, Taita Taveta, Marsabit, Nyandarua, Bomet, Wajir, Laikipia, Tharaka Nithi and Tana River counties will appear in June.

Nyamira, Baringo, Bungoma, Kisumu, Kitui, West Pokot, Nairobi and Kirinyaga will appear in July.

A schedule for the remaining 14 counties is yet to be released. The committee will finish with queries for the 2014-2015 financial year before interrogating 2015-2016 accounts.

Governors are required to submit written responses two weeks before their appearance.

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