BendAburu Alert... Another year, another regression. Auditor General Edward Ouko has sounded the alarm over claims by the Homa Bay County Governme
Another year, another regression.
Auditor General Edward Ouko has sounded the alarm over claims by the Homa Bay County Government that it spent Kshs. 2 Billion to purchase assets during the financial year 2016-2017. Mr. Ouko also questioned the Kshs.132,Million payment for purchase of a non-existent Cotton Processing Plant at Kendu-Bay, in Karachuonyo Sub-County.
A recently released Audit Report signed by Mr. Ouko, indicated public funds worth Ksh.2,008,537,814 claimed by the county government to have been used to purchase various assets could not be confirmed. The transactions involving the said amount were not supported with relevant documents. Namely, payment vouchers, procurement documents and related tender records as is a standard practice. In some instances, the said assets were non-existent altogether.
The said documents, which are a standard proof of expenditure, were not presented to the auditors, rendering the auditors unable to confirm the accuracy, and validity of the expenditure .
Countys’ Report on Status of Projects – Not Unavailable
The County, yet again, fell short of the litmus test, when it failed [declined] to avail to the auditors the status of all projects implemented during the said year. This, in addition to being unable to indicate the status and follow-up on audit issues reported in the previous year [2015-2016] raised considerable concern.
Payments for Non- Existent Cotton Processing Plant
The Kshs 2 Billion questionable purchase of assets is further compounded, together with the revelation over the purchase of non-existent equipment during the financial year 2016/2017 for Homabay County has raised serious concerns over the financial health of the County.
An additional payment of Kshs.132,Million was noted by the Auditors for purchase of specialized plant, machinery and equipment that was to include Kshs. 5 Million purchase and installation of a cotton processing plant were made on 5th March 2015.
However physical verification, by the Auditors, on 9th January 2018, revealed the purported cotton processing plant does not exist, nor was any construction site attributed to the project. This and all while payment had been made! #CottonGhostofKendu #HomabayCountyAt7
From the Audit, the general health of Homa Bay County public finances seems to have declined considerably. Unauthorised, fruitless and wasteful expenditure seems to have ballooned in the absence of reliable, consistent and effective internal controls over the past year.
Ksh.651 Million Paid by Cheque!!!
The management at the “County of Choice” was also put on the spot over the irregular payment of Ksh.651 Million. Amounts which had not just been paid through cheques, against the law, which requires all payments be made through the government online payment system to allow for verification.
The payments were also made without a clear authorization – state the purpose for withdrawal – to spend contrary to the law.
The audit puts on undeniably display the fact that all is not well in Homa Bay County. And while payment for non-existent assets definately is suspicious. Irregular expenditure does not necessarily refer to flat-out theft. But certainly means procedures, protocols, regulations and laws were not followed — and an investigation is required.
There is a worrying trend of non-compliance with laid down regulation and even the Auditor-General’s office requests for information being ignored! And the offices supposed to investigate while others provide oversight are missing in action. Now this is where the county of Homa Bay is stuck. #HomabayCountyAt7 !!
Lack of consequences for those who transgress the legislative and regulatory framework remains a top reason for the continually declining audit outcomes, and which the county has had more than its fair share since the inception of devolution.
The unsupported use of public funds cited in the audit report, runs into billions and continues to raise significant interest and reactions among Homabay residents. and it would be interesting to see the response of the MCAs and the Senate Committee on Accounts and Investment whose role it is to provide oversight over the expenditure of public funds. More so considering that last years audit queries were not also addressed by the county.
Concerned private citizens and civil society have sent various petitions to the Investigating agency to look into the ballooning concerns over irregularities in the Homa Bay expenditure. The latest having been sent this week to the Senate Committee on Accounts and Investment whose role it is to provide oversight over the public wallet.
The Senate Committee Committee is chaired by Moses Otieno Kajwang, who is also the Senator for Homa Bay County. Whether his committee can exorcise the #CottonGhostofKendu is yet to be seen.
We sure will keep you posted