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Health CS James Macharia on the spot over unaccounted billions

By Alphonce Shiundu | July 16th 2015
Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia. The Auditor General has accused his ministry of refusing to explain how Sh3.4 billion was spent. [PHOTO: FILE/STANDARD]

NAIROBI: The Auditor General Edward Ouko has asked unsettling questions about missing billions, the book-keeping, and the accounting practices in the Ministry of Health, which have made it difficult for him to tell the country how at least Sh11 billion of taxpayers' money was spent.

In a report on the spending in the ministry, the Auditor General said he had failed to find documents showing how the ministry spent the money allocated to it in the 2013-14 financial year.

Mr Ouko said while Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia forwarded reports to show that he had only spent Sh32.6 billion, the books showed that Treasury with the approval of the Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo, had released Sh39.6 billion. That means Sh7 billion was either not spent or could not be accounted for.

The ministry, which has been tussling with governors over health workers salaries, also owes the country an explanation on how Sh1.18 billion in the salaries budget was spent.

The ministry's books showed that Sh19.5 billion was paid out to employees but the Integrated Payroll Processing Database, the master record of all payments made to employees, showed that Sh20.7 billion was spent. This is a difference of Sh1.2 billion.

"Though the ministry has explained that it was advised by Treasury to pay these salaries to devolved staff, no documentary evidence has been availed for audit review to show that Treasury approved this expenditure and whether county governments refunded the same to the ministry," the Auditor General said in the report.

Ouko has given Dr Macharia and his accountants the benefit of doubt because while in the report he has issued an "adverse opinion" he blamed it on "unexplained or unreconciled" amount. He accused the ministry of refusing to shed light on how Sh3.4 billion was spent.

The problem is that Sh641 million for the Nutrition Department and the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital lacks relevant documents to back up expenditure.

"Although receipts were journalised and captured in the statement, the journal entries were not supported with relevant documentary evidence," said Ouko.

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