Shame of 70 MPs misusing bursary funds

Tuesday, October 19th, 2021 00:00 | By
Auditor General Nancy Gathungu. Photo/PD/File

Anthony Mwangi and Mercy Mwai

More than 70 constituencies are on the spot for misusing millions of shillings meant for bursaries for bright students from poor backgrounds.

Auditor General Nancy Gathungu in her latest report on bursary funds allocated to constituencies, has fingered 70 electoral units for failing to account for funds meant to educate bright students from poor families.

The report comes at a time schools have defied the Education ministry directive not to send students home for lack of fees, a week after they reported back for the second term. 

Apart from lack of accountability in the distribution of the bursary kitty, the Auditor General also questions delays in completion of school projects, most of which had stalled.

She also faults the various National Government Constituency Development Fund (NGCGF) committees for issuing stale cheques to contractors as well as schools.

She cites the case of Kilifi South whose MP is Ken Chonga, which could not provide supporting documents for Sh25.1 million purportedly disbursed as bursaries to needy students secondary schools and tertiary institutions.

Bursary application

In addition, the report shows that the bursary applications register showing applicants names, identification details, and the schools or colleges attended were not provided for audit and, therefore, it was not possible to determine whether the beneficiaries had applied for the money.

The report further reveals that a review of the bursary schedule provided by the Kilifi South NGCDF showed that admission or registration numbers of various schools or institutions for 77 beneficiaries of Sh1.7 million were not included.

The report also identified anomalies in the disbursements of Sh278,000 awarded to 12 beneficiaries.

For instance, four of them were awarded bursaries worth Sh20,000 each despite having similar admission and registration numbers.

It also revealed that seven others received two bursaries each for different institutions while one male student who received a bursary of Sh35,000 was shown to attend a girls’ only secondary school.

“Consequently, the propriety and accuracy of the bursaries payments of Sh39.2 million could not be confirmed,” says the report.

In John Mutunga’s Tigania West constituency, the NGCDF committee did not provide receipts for bursaries totaling Sh7.5 million from beneficiary institutions.

According to the auditor, the committee also gave out stale cheques amounting to Sh33,000, which had not been reversed in the cash book by the time of audit.

“In the circumstances, the accuracy and validity of bursaries amounting to Sh7.5 million for the year ended June 30, 2019, could not be confirmed,” reads the report.

In Bernard Shinali’s Ikolomani constituency, the auditor questions disbursement of Sh31.2 million to secondary schools, special schools and colleges after it emerged that all bursary application forms were not filled by the bursary sub-committee as required by law.

The auditor also observed that the amounts awarded to applicants was not indicated in the application forms.

“In the circumstances, the accuracy and probity of the bursary expenditure of Sh31. 2 million could not be ascertained,” states the report.

In addition, Gathungu raises concern over school projects in Ikolomani constituency noting  that they were poorly done while others were incomplete despite money being pumped in by the management.

The schools in question include Lirhembe and Shiavihiga primary schools.

At Lirhembe, Gathungu regrets that while a contract for construction of classrooms was awarded to a local contractor at a cost Sh13.9 million and despite the management having paid Sh10 million, the construction was going on by June 2020 well past the completion of date of December 14, 2015.

At Shiavihiga, where a contract for the construction of eight classrooms was awarded at a cost of Sh14.6 million, audit inspection done in 2020 revealed poor workmanship.

In Josephat Kabebea’s Tigania East constituency, the report shows that despite disbursements of Sh35 million in respect of bursaries to secondary schools, there was no acknowledgement by the beneficiary secondary schools amounting to Sh17.9 million.

CDF committee

In Maragua constituency, whose MP is Mary Wamaua, no evidence was provided to show that the committee had established a bursary sub-committee to manage the scheme despite making transfers of Sh19.3 million and Sh17.7 million to secondary schools and tertiary institutions.

According to the auditor, this is contrary to the NGCDF circular of September 2010 that requires board managers to establish such committees to oversee distribution of funds.

The constituency funds committee was also accused of failing to utilise balances amounting to Sh7.5 million in respect of 57 projects management committee bank accounts yet no explanation was given for failure to close the accounts and transfer the balances to the Fund account.

 “This is contrary to section 12 (8) of the NGCDF Act, 2015, which requires that all unutilised funds of the management committee shall be returned to the constituency account,” states the auditor.

Despite the transfer of bursaries worth Sh17.9 million and Sh15.3 million to secondary and tertiary institutions, respectively, in Fafi constituency whose MP is Abdikarim Osman Mohamed, the audit reveals that bursaries amounting to Sh4.9 million were not supported with acknowledgement receipts or letters from learning institutions where the funds were allegedly channeled to.

“In the circumstances, the accuracy, completeness and validity of bursaries of Sh4.9 million for the year ended June, 30 2019, could not be confirmed,” reads the report.

In Tongaren constituency, whose MP is Eseli Simiyu, the report states that despite the transfer of Sh13.4 million, Sh15.4 million and Sh7.5 million to schools and tertiary institutions, the amounts reflected in the bursary schedules differed with the money paid according to payment vouchers.

“The variances were not explained or reconciled and in the circumstances it was not possible to ascertain the accuracy and completeness of the bursary payments included in the reported transfers,” states the report.

In Mandera East constituency of Hassan Omar Mohhamed Maalim, the audit shows that even though Sh30.6 million was disbursed to various secondary schools and tertiary institutions, there were no official receipts or acknowledgement letters from the benefiting institutions as required.

In Mathare constituency, represented by Anthony Oluoch, the auditor raises queries of stale cheques amounting to Sh1 million since they had not been presented within six months.

The cheques represented payments for employees’ statutory deductions and bursaries to needy students.

“Failure to reverse the stale cheques in the books of account misrepresents the cash balance in the financial statements. No explanation was given for this anomaly,” reads the report.

In Borabu constituency whose MP is Ben Momanyi, Gathungu raises concern that although Sh26.2 million was disbursed as bursaries to students in various learning institutions, Sh8.9 million was not supported by any documents.

 “Consequently, the validity and regularity of the expenditure of Sh8.9 million as at 30 June could not be ascertained,” says the report.

In Dadaab constituency represented by Mohammed Dahir Duale, the audit shows that although Sh13.9 million and Sh5.2 million was disbursed to secondary schools and tertiary institutions, respectively, acknowledgement letters from beneficiary institutions for bursaries amounting to Sh1.5 million were not provided, adding that the Fund did not maintain a cheque dispatch register.

In Michael Kingi’s Magarini constituency, Gathungu not only questions irregular bursary awards to various schools but also payments advanced to the Fund Account Manager.

According to the audit, out of Sh16.3 million paid as bursary to secondary schools, an amount of Sh1.963 million.

More on News