Audit flags irregular spending by varsities

Friday, May 6th, 2022 02:22 | By
Auditor General Nancy Gathungu. PHOTO/File

Auditor General Nancy Gathungu has once again raised the red flag over the misappropriation of funds in public universities.

In reports tabled in the National Assembly between February and April, Gathungu raised concern over the delays in the completion of several projects.

She also pointed out that universities were running unapproved bank accounts, lack regional balance in the hiring of staff and issuing sitting allowances irregularly.

The universities include Laikipia University, Kisii University, Chuka University, University of Kabianga, Rongo University, Maseno University, University of Eldoret, Machakos University, Kirinyaga University, Turkana University and Pwani University.

At Pwani University, Gathungu said there was irregular procurement of the construction of a perimeter fence around the university’s land. The project has so far consumed Sh7.6 million out of the Sh100 million budgeted.

Contract method

She noted that although the procurement plan identified open tender as the method to be applied in procuring the construction services, audit examination of records provided indicate the project was implemented using the labour-based contract method yet the conditions prescribed for use of the method in the Public Procurement and Assets Disposals act 2015 were not evident.

“The nature and scope of the project did not meet the conditions prescribed for use of labour-based contract method and therefore the adoption of the method may have been irregular,” reads the report.

She also raised concerns over irregular accounting for taxable revenue income from hospitality ventures such as sale of food, provision of conference facilities and accommodation which, she said, were lumped together with students fees contrary to Part II of the Income Tax Act as well as irregular evaluation of tenders after the tender evaluation committee members assessed tenders jointly and not independently contrary to regulation 13 (1) of the Public procurement and assets disposals regulations.

With respect to Turkana University, Gathungu raised queries about Sh11.4 million tuition and related charges revenue income from 21 revenue streams which she said lacked student records including fees ledgers, journal vouchers, general ledger accounts, student fees and arrears subsidiary ledgers and supporting schedule were not provided for audit review.

Employment Act

“The accuracy and completeness of tuition and related charges amounting to Sh11,408,880 for the year ended June 30, 2020 could not be confirmed,” reads the report.

At Machakos University, Gathungu raised concern over failure to comply with the Employment Act on deductions as 220 employees were earning net salaries below a third of their basic, which is contrary to provisions of section 19(3) of the Employment Act 2007.

The auditor also queried delayed implementation of sports and games projects worth Sh1.7 million which had no budgetary provisions.

At the University of Eldoret, Gathungu raised concerns over un-reconciled transfers from work in progress amounting to Sh69.1 million, outstanding imprests amounting to Sh5.3 million and the utilisation of research funds.

According to Gathungu, the university received donor funds totaling Sh128.5 million out of which Sh56.99 million was disbursed to lecturers for research purposes yet no reports to support the achievement of intended objective was provided.

“In the circumstances, the validity and completeness of the expenditure of Sh56,997,430 incurred on research funds could not be confirmed,” she said.

At Maseno University, Gathungu said research expenses worth Sh8 million paid to a consultant were unsupported.

Although the consultant was paid, Gathungu noted that it was not clear how the consultant was identified by the university as it did not provide the procurement method used to offer the service.

“The management is in breach of the law and the propriety of the expenditure of Sh8 million for consultancy fee could not be confirmed,” adds the report.

She also queried Sh3.67 million for 129 student debtors whose names appeared on the ledger more than once and had more than one registration number yet no explanation was given for the anomaly.

At Kirinyaga University, she raised concerns over unapproved Appropriations in Aid and construction of a lecture theatre which was to initially cost Sh149.2 million with a completion date of May 2018 but was later revised by Sh29.7 million to Sh178.97 million and the completion period extended five times to April 23, 2021 yet, as at September 16, the project was at 47.6 per cent.

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