A report released by the Auditor General has revealed massive misuse of public funds and blatant flouting of procurement procedures by the Makueni County Executive.

The report on financial operations for the 2013/2014 financial year showed that the executive arm of the County Government did not utilize funds amounting to Sh1.3B, an equivalent of 24 percent of the available funds thus impacting negatively on service delivery to the county residents.

Out of the budgeted local revenue collection of Sh350M for the period under review, only Sh189M was collected according to the report resulting to under-performance of Sh159M.

The report by Auditor General Edward Ouko signed on May 5, 2015 further states the County Executive paid out Sh11M for domestic travel and subsistence allowance without complying to the laid procedures.

The report points out glaring anomalies in which trips undertaken by officers were neither supported by work nor bus tickets while payments for seminars and trainings did not provide evidence of attendance in form of invitation letters, timetable or list of participants.

“In some instances vital details like the personal numbers of the payees listed in the schedules, place of visit, the number of days spend out of the duty station and the purpose of the visit were not disclosed,” says the report.

In one instance a temporary imprest of Sh1.4M was advanced to the Director of Youth Boniface Mutinga for training of boda boda riders in the 30 ward. However, the payment voucher lacked relevant supporting documents of the surrender.

The County Executive had an outstanding imprest of Sh5M, which had not been surrendered by the 30 June 2014 deadline. The imprests were issued to various officers including the Devolution and Public Service Executive Kawive Wambua with an imprest of Sh990,000 and former Roads and Infrastructure Executive Molly Kamene who was relieved off her duties with an outstanding imprest of Sh49,000. Others include former County Commissioner David Ole Shege with a imprest totaling to Sh550,000 and Sospeter Musembi with an imprest of Sh1.9M.

The report also revealed an expenditure on fuel and lubricants totaling to Sh7.9M without documentary evidence. Subsequently the County Executive paid Sh17M for routine maintenance of motor vehicles and other transport equipment with no inspection report detailing defects and estimated repair costs.

The report further states that no post inspection reports for the vehicles were available and the auditor could not establish whether there was need to repair the vehicles or the repairs were actually carried out on the respective motor vehicles.

The County Executive also made unsupported bursary payments amounting to Sh11M. The bursary payments further included a Sh2.9M paid as Governor’s bursary to various students. No records on how the needy students were established and there were also no indications that the institutions received the funds.

On human resource, the County Executive did not have a proper staff records making it impossible to establish whether recruitment of employees during the period under review was done within the approved staff establishment.

Subsequently, some employees were paid salaries amounting to Sh152M through manual payrolls, which could not be verified. The report also revealed an irregular salary payment of Sh295, 540 to a ghost employee between May and November 2014.

The report also questioned the payment of legal fees amounting to Sh7M to Nyamu and Nyamu C0. Advocates without proper documentary evidence with auditor terming the legal fees payment as irregular.

Direct procurement of seedlings for a tree planting exercise budgeted at Sh15M exceeded by Sh32M, a 215 percent variation over the recommended 10 percent. Out of the Sh42M, of Sh 17M in cash payments were made to undisclosed persons. The report states that the project was a blatant waste of money as all trees planted dried.

“Due to lack of sustainability in the project planning the said seedlings were not taken care of after planting .They all dried up making the total expenditure of Sh47M a loss of public funds,” reads the report.

Further, the report states that the County Executive flouted the Public Procurement and Disposal Act, 2005 and Regulations, 2006 during the procurement of Wi-Fi Connectivity at the county headquarter offices located at Wote town.

Though the procurement report indicated that invitation to tender the project at a cost of Sh7M was done on 21 December 2013, the Local Purchase Order (LPO) was prepared on 11 December 2013 nine days before the bidding while the County Government was invoiced on 17 December and a completion certificate issued on 20 December 2013 four days and a day before the bids were invited respectively.

The report that has already been tabled at the County Assembly further indicates that a physical verification of the project revealed the signal was too weak and could not be detected in some locations of the five – storey building leading to a waste of public money.

In the procurement of website update, all the three companies that bidded according to the report were owned by the same directors and the tender documents and evaluation minutes for the Sh1.4M project were unavailable.

Similarly, procurement procedures were disregarded in the procuring of toners and cartridges amounting to Sh7M where payments were done through an unnumbered and unauthorized voucher.

The report also states that the County Government of Makueni had failed to take over assets and liabilities of the three defunct local authorities and called on the County Government to expedite the process in liaison with the Transition Authority.

The report, undoubtedly paints a grim picture on the state of devolution and those responsible for the plundering of public funds should be charged accordingly. Already seven members of the County Executive Tender Committee have been arraigned in a Machakos court for flouting procurement procedures in the establishment of Kikima Dairy project in Mbooni.

Part two will analyze the auditor’s report on the Makueni County Assembly finance operations for the 2013/2014 financial year.