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Nairobi MCAs want graft-ridden bursaries cheques system back

By Josphat Thiongó | August 3rd 2021
The EFT system involves City Hall wiring bursary funds to the school accounts of needy students directly. [Samson Wire, Standard]

Nairobi MCAs have called for the re-introduction of the cheque system in the disbursement of bursaries to needy students.

Through a motion tabled by Highrise Ward MCA Kennedy Oyugi, the leaders argue that the Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) system has led to discrepancies in vouchers issued to parents while various schools have no clear records on the funds disbursed.

Mr Oyugi said of the Sh200 million disbursed through the EFT system in the last financial year, approximately Sh50 million was lost due to inefficiencies.

“For instance, I have 100 vouchers in my office that I could not trace owners yet the monies are lying at various school accounts. This means students supposed to benefit from these funds are at the mercy of the school’s administration which has the discretion of either revealing that payments have been made or not,” he said.

The EFT system involves City Hall wiring bursary funds to the school accounts of needy students directly and parents are later issued with vouchers as claim to the funds.

The parents are then required to present the voucher to the schools. The EFT system was introduced in 2019 to curb corruption associated with the cheques system.

The ward reps however claim EFT is unaccountable, skewed and prone to manipulation by school heads.

Oyugi said some head teachers collude with accountants to ensure monies transferred do not read the students names while poor re-conciliation of records is affecting accountability of bursaries.

“In a school in Machakos for instance, we have 50 beneficiaries. We however had a scenario where bank statements were being withdrawn before all vouchers are registered and anyone coming after was being turned back on account of non-payment despite funds lying idle in the accounts,” added Oyugi.

The ward rep argued that the re-introduction of the cheques would ensure more students benefit from bursaries, unlike the vouchers which cannot be changed once drawn.

“By adopting the EFT system, we moved from the frying pan into the fire and devolved theft from a few individuals at City Hall to other institutions receiving the funds,” said Nominated MCA Silvia Museiya.

Umoja phase one MCA Mark Mugambi said he was still in possession of vouchers worth Sh400,000 noting that the situation was similar across other wards.

“The use of the EFT was a bright idea but its implementation has failed and we need to revert to the cheques for efficiency… one of the school accountants recently had the audacity to tell me they don't accept vouchers because it is not a supermarket,” noted Mr Mugambi.

Deputy Majority Leader Peter Wanyoike noted that some head teachers collude with accountants to ensure the monies transferred do not read the students names. 

“Half of the bursaries in each and every ward were lost when we first time used the electronic voucher system,” Mr Wanyoike said.  

The House approved the motion. 

Previously, the cheque system was the source of controversy between the executive and MCAs with the latter accusing some unscrupulous officials of diverting the funds to proxy accounts.

Some county officials and legislators banked the cheques in their company or proxy accounts leading to loss of millions of shillings meant for learners.

It however took the erroneous disbursement of Sh297.5 million bursary funds to a bank account belonging to the University of Maryland, Australia in June 2018 for City Hall to scrap the cheque system and adopt the EFT.

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