PSs on spot over Sh3b relief food cash

By , People Daily Digital
Tuesday, September 28th, 2021 00:00 | 3 mins read
Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho. PHOTO/COURTESY

A National Assembly committee has given three Principal Secretaries one week to produce evidence on how Sh3.3 billion was spent on emergency relief food and refugee assistance.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) directed Interior PS Karanja Kibicho, Julius Korir (Devolution) and Arid and Semi Arid Lands PS Micah Puwon to explain how the money was utilised after the Auditor General raised questions about the expenditure of the money.

At a meeting with Powon and Devolution  Secretary in charge of programmes Isaac Githui, committee chair Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja) said there was no evidence the targetted groups received food.

Audit queries

“I am giving you up to Monday next week to sit down with Kibicho and your counterpart Korir from Devolution and come up with a report of how the money was spent.

Please in that report give us a breakdown of everything including any returns,” Wandayi told Powon.

Wandayi said  issues touching on relief food distribution were very emotive and must be addressed promptly.

The directive came after Puwon, who had been invited to shed light on the matter as part of audit queries raised by Auditor General Nancy Gathungu in the 2018/19 financial year, said the issue of food relief was under the ministries of Devolution and Interior.

“This function does not fall under our jurisdiction. It falls under the Ministry of Devolution and I would request you to direct it there,” he said.

Githui told the committee that the Interior ministry was better placed to respond to the issues because County Commissioners and Deputy County Commissioners are the ones who distribute relief food.

He said the Ministry had on several occasions written to the Public Service Commission (PSC) seeking to be allowed to hire staff who can distribute such relief food for purposes of accountability but they were yet to get the go ahead.

“Our efforts to have us recruit our own staff have not been successful. The Deputy County Commissioners and County Commissioners, who fall under the Interior Ministry, cannot take instructions from us,” he said.

He added: “This involves a huge amount of money and it is not in doubt that this procurement took place. What is in doubt is whether the County Commissioners and Deputy County Commissioners distributed the food.”

Dispatch records

In her report, Gathungu said documentation of distribution of relief food and the basis of selection of the beneficiaries were not provided for audit.

According to her, an audit inspection in Mwatate, Kilifi North, Baringo Central, Kitui Central and Makueni sub-counties revealed there were anomalies in relief receipts and distribution.

The anomalies include lack of follow up by the State Department of Special Programmes as to whether the relief food sent to the counties was received by the intended beneficiaries as there were discrepancies in the dispatch records and the receiving records maintained by the sub-counties.

The Auditor General pointed out that despite the State Department for Interior taking part in the distribution of the relief food, no report on the quantities received and quantities distributed to the State Department for Special Programmes was made and thus there was no indication on how the food was received by the beneficiaries.

She added that there was no accountability for Authority to Incur Expenditure (AIE) sent to the County Commissioners for transport as evidenced by the counties, which could not fully account for Sh1.7 million AIEs sent to them.

“In all the sub-counties visited, there was no comprehensive distribution records to indicate how the foodstuff received was distributed.

There was no documentation on how needy persons were identified or how quantities of various donations were determined,” she said.

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