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Governor Rasanga on the spot over use of Covid-19 funds

NYANZA
By Grace Ng'ang'a | May 11th 2021
Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga when he appeared before the Senate County Public Account and Investment Committee over audit queries at Parliament in 2020.[Boniface Okendo,Standard]

Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga was put in a spot for allegedly spending more money from the county emergency fund than the initial budget in the fight against Covid-19.

In a virtual meeting with the Senate Standing Committee on Health yesterday, Mr Rasanga was hard-pressed to explain where he got Sh115 million for Covid-19 related activities yet the money allocated to the county emergency fund was Sh100 million.

The Auditor General's special audit report on utilisation of Covid-19 funds by counties, flagged over-expenditure from the county emergency fund in Siaya.

“It was established that as of 31 July 2020, Sh115,884,928 had been committed for Covid-19 related activities which was against the approved budget allocated to the county emergency fund for Covid-19 purposes,” read the statement in part.

But the governor said the county only spent Sh100 million and not Sh115 million as the special audit report indicated.

“There may be an error but I can confirm that we did not spend more than Sh100 million. I can confirm that all commitments were charged within the funds. There was no over expenditure,” Rasanga told the committee.

The Auditor General defended the report, saying there was proof of payment vouchers amounting to Sh115 million.

The committee questioned the conflicting information from the county and AG.

“So where did the Auditor General get the findings if the governor is insisting that the amount used was Sh100 million? Did the report come from the sky?” Posed Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina.

The committee chair Kisumu Senator Fred Outa however, demanded that the governor provides proof of expenditure.

“We will give you one week to provide evidence that you did not spend more than Sh100 million,” Mr Outa stated.

Siaya appropriated Sh270 million in respect to Covid-19 and related emergencies out of which Sh100 million was from the county emergency fund with the county receiving Sh60 million on July 3 and another Sh40 million on July 14 respectively.

Other funds received by the county are government conditional grants worth Sh97 million, Danida Sh6 million, national government health workers allowance Sh36 million and Kenya Devolution Support Programme (KSDP) Sh30 million.

Rasanga was also faulted for not spending KSDP and the government’s conditional grants in good time.

“As at the time of the audit the conditional grant and KSDP were still held in the Siaya county Covid-19 fund account and the Siaya County KSDP respectively. This was attributed to absence of approved budgets, work plans, and procurement plans to facilitate spending,” the report said.

The governor said the KSDP funds were used to purchase Covid-19 supplies.

“Commitment for isolation which represented 71 per cent of the funds could only be paid out on completion of the isolation centres. At the time of the audit, the funds had been committed and the service providers/contractors were at various stages of delivery/completion of isolation centres which had not reached the payments stage, and hence the un-utilisation of funds at that time,” he explained.

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