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Controller of Budget reveals massive rip-off by State, counties

By Standard Team | October 12th 2015 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

The Government is struggling with cash flow problems while asking Kenyans to tighten their belts and prepare for austerity measures such as cutbacks in public spending. Meanwhile, revelations of the hilarious but painful extent to which public officials go to enrich themselves have emerged; telling a different Kenyan story.

Over the last two years, national and county governments have splashed billions of shillings in expenses that are hardly priority - some blatant rip-offs of the taxpayer in a manner smacking of impunity.

In some cases, there might be no evidence of theft but two things stand out; extravagance and a don't-care-attitude in management of public funds.

The latest report by the Controller of Budget, which covered budget expenditure between July 2014 and June 2015, exposes huge spending on non-priority items like allocations to hospitality and travel votes.

It echoes the care-free public spending unearthed in the 2013-2014 audit by the Auditor General that reported the Government could not account for Sh67 billion, with Treasury arguing that ministries failed to provide documents; raising questions why they were not immediately available on request.

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Presidency spending

In the latest report, the Controller of Budget explains the Government spent Sh4.2 billion on hospitality, conferences and catering costs, with the Presidency incurring Sh1.4 billion.

Overall, the Government spent Sh6.6 billion on domestic travel and Sh4.2 billion on international travel.

The Ministry of Interior is among the big spenders on suspect items like Sh870 million on legal fees, arbitration and compensation payments.

The same ministry spent Sh275 million on firewood, charcoal and cooking gas through the Department for Co-ordination of National Government. And the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, besides spending Sh181 million on donations, presumably to foreign and visiting dignitaries, spent Sh78.6 million for shipment of personal and household effects of its staff members.

Department for Fisheries spent Sh1.1 billion to buy boats, with the Department of Transport pending Sh600 million also to purchase sea vessels.

At the counties, cases of the apparent plundering of public resources have attracted the attention of the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission.

In Bungoma, the county government is alleged to have spent Sh1 million on wheelbarrows. In Nyamira, Sh7 million is claimed to have been spent on a hospital gate and another Sh2.6 million paid to MCAs as sitting allowance while on recess. Kirinyaga spent Sh1.2 million to create a Facebook page. Also standing out are the sniffer dogs that cost Laikipia Sh720,000. Kajiado purchased 24 smart phones for Sh2.5 million. In Nyamira, 33 MCAs enjoyed a Sh340,000 lunch while in Taita Taveta, Sh525,000 was set aside to buy a noise metre.


THE STANDARD INSIDER

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