Governor Lusaka put to task over bloated workforce

Bungoma Governor Kenneth Lusaka before the Senate County Public Accounts Committee. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Senators put to task Bungoma Governor Kenneth Lusaka over the increase of employees from 5,000 to 7,000 in the last two years.

Dr Lusaka said that the more than 2,000 employees were hired by his predecessor and due process may not have been followed.

The governor told the Senate County Public Accounts Committee chaired by Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang in Nairobi yesterday that some of the employees did not have clear responsibilities.

He claimed that a section of the staff were employed to escort the governor to funerals which was not prudent expenditure of county resources and promised to rectify the situation.

“I would like to admit that there was an increase in the number of county employees by more than 2,000 which was done during the term of my predecessor and some of them might not have a clear job description other than escorting the governor to funerals,” he said.

The governor told the committee that when he left office after his first term in 2017, about 2,000 students were on scholarship but when he recaptured the seat in 2022 he found that the number had shot up to 12,000 without a budget to cater for their education.

Kajwang wondered why Lusaka interdicted the County Secretary and the County Attorney after assuming office but he said that most governors had a challenge working with some staff who did not believe in their agenda.

According to the Auditor General's report, the County Executive spent Sh242.6 million on basic wages of temporary employees in the financial year that ended on June 30, 2020, which was an increase of Sh64.5 million from the previous year’s expenditure of Sh178.08 million.

However, the scrutiny of employees’ records revealed that out of the expenditure of Sh242.6 million, a total of Sh 235.8 million was not supported with documents of how the temporary employees were hired, their duties and terms and conditions of service.

There was no master roll showing attendances of casual work, approval by the County Public Services Board authorizing Departments to recruit casual employees, listing of all temporary workers engaged by various departments, In this circumstance the Management was considered to have breached the law.

“The county government has issued letters to respective authorised officers to stop the employment of casual employees, the County Public Service Board has taken up the matter so as to assess how health and agriculture facilities can be supported to comply with the law without affecting service,” said Lusaka.

According to the Auditor General report during the financial year under review, the County Executive was to implement 437 projects or programmes with a total budget of Sh11 billion by different sectors, however, analysis of the projects' implementation performance indicated that 38 or 9 per cent of the projects had not started.

The report also showed that 235 or 54 per cent of projects were ongoing 11 or 3 per cent of projects had been halted, 15 or 3 per cent of the projects, though complete, had defects, and 138 or 32 per cent of the projects had been completed. 

The Auditor General report therefore stated that under the circumstances, the County Executive may not have achieved its targets as approved by the assembly hence service delivery may not be fully realized by the residents of Bungoma county.

“The Bungoma County government acknowledges that 138 of the planned 437 projects had been completed by the time of the audit of the financial statements for the year ended June 2020, 235 projects were still ongoing, 38 other projects had not started, 11 projects had been halted while 15 projects were under defects liability period,” said Lusaka.

The governor said that through the Budget Circular for the financial year 2023/2024, the county government has prioritized that all ongoing projects are required to be disclosed to the County Treasury and information provided on whether they have sufficient budgetary provision for further consideration and prioritization

Lusaka told senators that he has directed that all stalled projects be disclosed to the County Treasury for further consideration and prioritization with timely preparation of the Annual Procurement Plan so as to initiate procurement processes in time.