Senate asks EACC to probe Sh785 million expenditure by Nyandarua county

Nyandarua Governor Kiarie Badilisha when appeared before the Senate Committee on Lands, Environment and Natural Resources on April 25, 2023. [Elvis Ogina, Standard

The Senate County Public Accounts Committee has asked the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to probe the Nyandarua county government over expenditure of at least Sh785 million.

Nyandarua Governor Kiarie Badilisha appeared before the committee in Nairobi yesterday where he admitted that his administration is grappling with 69 audit queries for the financial years ending June 2020 and June 2021.

The governor was put to task over Sh306.4 million imprest issued during the financial year ended June 2021 but not cleared contrary to regulation 97(1) of the Public Finance Management Act 2015.

The committee asked Badilisha to explain unsupported hospital allocations amounting to Sh275.9 million in transfers to hospitals which was not supported by detailed expenditure returns from each medical facility, opening bank balances and certificate of bank balances.

Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo who chaired the session noted that the county government had allocated Sh89.3 million funds for Covid-19 response but it was not supported by payment vouchers, bank statement, or expenditure return and the committee gave the governor one week to provide the relevant vouchers.

"The Nyandarua county government has been given one week to provide the relevant vouchers to the committee failure to which the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission will be called in to investigate the matter since we would like to know whether the area residents got value for their money," said Dullo.

Badilisha was asked to explain unsupported expenditure of Sh8.4 million in hospitality supplies and services that was not supported by imprest warrants, surrender vouchers, memorandum cash book for imprest, public participation minutes and approved work plans.

The committee questioned the payment of Sh30 million to a construction company which was not supported by procurement records, contracts, certificates of works done and inspection and acceptance committee certificates.

The governor was asked to explain the payment of Sh27.2 million for projects not included in the approved budget where the county also failed to provide respective project files for audit review to the Auditor General.

Senator Dullo asked the county government to explain why staff were paid Sh31.5 million for travel expenses without necessary documentations to support the expenditure with per diem and travel allowances directly paid to individual bank accounts without the use of imprest warrants.

"This committee needs to be told how Sh31 million was paid to staff as imprest and travel expenses without following due process which raises questions as to whether public funds were embezzled by Nyandarua county government officials," she said.

The governor was put to task over unsupported payment of Sh16.3 million to contract employees, casuals and interns that was not supported by employment letters, payroll details or approvals from the County Public Service Board.

Badilisha owned up to to the errors detailed in the Auditor General report saying the preparation of the financial statements was not up to date but told the committee the Finance department has capacity challenges which he is currently trying to address.

He told the committee that when he took over one year ago the county was operating without trained accountants and funds had been spent for the intended purposes but there were no proper records to support this which raised audit questions which should not have been the case.

"I would like to admit before the Senate County Public Accounts Committee that you will find that funds were spent for the intended purposes in Nyandarua but the problem is that in most occasions you might not find the correct documentation to support this which raises audit queries," he said.

Finance and Economic Development Chief Officer Juvenalis Thiong'o found himself on the receiving end for impersonation after his signature and Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya (ICPAK) number was used in the financial statements prepared by the previous holder of the office.

The committee was informed that Thiong'o's predecessor, who prepared the statements, was not an ICPAK member and that is why the chief officer signed on his behalf.

But Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei accused Thiong'o of impersonation for signing financial statements that he had not prepared.

Cherargei asked the Finance and Economic Development Chief Officer whether he was aware what he had done amounted to a criminal offence which might lead to him being sacked, deregistered by ICPAK and even jailed.

"By allowing your signature to be used in documents that you did not prepare, you have committed a criminal offence and this also shows professional negligence that might lead to you being deregistered by the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya if you are reported," he said.

Kisii Senator Richard Onyonka called for the chief officer to be reported to ICPAK for disciplinary action saying that bY allowing his signature to be used in the documents it means he was ready to take responsibility for anything wrong that might have been done.

Thiong'o was also accused of frustrating auditors by not providing required documents in time with the committee calling on the governor to take administrative action against him since it was a criminal offence not to provide relevant documents to the Auditor General.

Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah said the Public Audit Act should be applied on the officer for misconduct. The Act states that a person who fails to provide required information is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding Sh5 million or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years.

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