More trouble for Ezra Chiloba as audit report flags cash paid to CA staff

Suspended CA Director-General Ezra Chiloba. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

An audit report has recommended the recovery of millions of shillings paid to the Communications Authority of Kenya staff.

The report also wants mortgage processing frozen.

The 48-page report indicates that the current human resource manual does not have a provision for ex-gratia tokens or others that are offered by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission circular released in 2014.

Some of the issues raised include the payment of 46 staff members, who pocketed Sh7.1 million on top of their salaries while hosting KUZA awards.

“It is not clear why staff are being paid extra allowances which are not in the policy for work done during office hours and catered for in their job responsibilities.

“Payments for allowances, appreciation, tokens and special responsibilities are not payable to Job group J and above for services rendered over and above their normal job requirements,” the report reads.

The committee that conducted the audit indicated that it was unclear what policy was used to authorise the payment.

Further, audits show that senior staff have relatives, including sisters, brothers, nephews and in-laws, working without any declaration of conflict of interest.

In addition, the committee also pointed out that CA paid Sh3.1 million to 21 staff members who participated in the International Telecommunication Council (ITU) council re-election bid in Romania.

This, the report says, was done despite them enjoying full subsistence allowance for the 24 days they spent abroad.

The committee was of the view that the regulator’s staff were spending on non-existent budgets and recommended that the board should order for recovery of any ex-gratia payment or any other allowance that was paid without following the law.

Travel schedules

The audit also indicated that CA’s staff travel schedules are prepared on a monthly basis instead of having an annual calendar in place.

In some cases, it was observed the head of the nominating department did not sign the travel forms, thus leading to the committee questioning how final approvals were done.

At the same time, the committee indicated that despite CA investing Sh300 million in travel, the value addition derived from the huge investment could not be ascertained.

The committee recommended that CA should align its travel policy with the new government circular on foreign travel.

Meanwhile, the report indicates that there were no proposed recommendations implemented to improve CA’s execution of its mandate.

CA board chairperson Mary Wambui admitted that the report is “serious” and “sensitive”.

“The board is seized of the matter, and I cannot discuss the same publicly because it’s an active agenda at the board level and the contents are not only serious but also sensitive. We shall, however, make public all the issues and the decision of the board on all the allegations once the deliberations on the same have been concluded.”

In his response to the audit, Director General Ezra Chiloba, who has been suspended, said there was no fault in the scheme, and it followed the frameworks and guidelines set by the government and the authority.

Chiloba asserted his innocence and questioned how the mortgage scheme audit was conducted. He alleged there was interference from members who were outside the audit committee.

“I wish to state that the allegations levelled against me, conflict of Interest, abuse of office, intent to defraud the authority, lack of professionalism and integrity and negligence of duty and failure to show due care are unfounded, incorrect and unjustified,” replied Chiloba.

The response is contained in the document dated October 2, addressed to the CA Chairperson.

According to Chiloba, the documents presented as part of the audit had glaring contradictions, while others were a clear breach of privacy.

He urged CA board to lift his suspension by vacating the show cause letter sent to him.

The audit indicated that the scheme’s loan book stood at Sh662.4 million.

It emerged that construction loans stood at Sh72.2 million while house purchase loans were Sh196.4 million.

Meanwhile, loan refinancing loans were Sh364.8 million, and the outstanding loan balance stood at Sh28.8 million.

On loan refinancing, the audit committee observed that CA staff lacked evidence of upgrades of improvement of their purchase of construction of houses.

According to it, the refinancing represented 55.07 per cent of the total outstanding balance, but there was no evidence of upgrades done to the houses.

Further, the committee pointed out that CA has no pre-qualified valuers.

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