Audit finds Sh9 billion census money missing

Friday, September 3rd, 2021 00:00 |
Auditor General Nancy Gathungu during a past appearance before a parliamentary committee. Photo/PD/File

Sh9.2 billion spent during the 2019 Kenya Population Census cannot be accounted for, a new audit report shows.

A report by Auditor General Nancy Gathungu reveals there were massive irregularities regarding the money’s expenditure  by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), as it failed to provide supporting documents to back the expenditures.

Some of the irregularities flagged by the Auditor General range from payment for provision of security, purchase of airtime, data bundles and procurement of sim cards, payment of Short Message Service (SMS), unsupported payment to village elders and census personnel.

Others are unsupported survey expenditures as well as reconciled general ledgers and M-Pesa payment to village elders.

“The statement of financial performance as disclosed under Note 4 of the financial statement reflects project expenses amount of Sh10,083,382,911 which included an amount of Sh9,228,837,684 in respect of the 2019 Kenya Housing and population Census (KHPC). The following irregularities were noted,” reads the report.

The government spent at least Sh18.5 billion during the exercise, out of which Sh3.5 billion was used to procure smartphones at Sh15,000 each.

The then KNBS Director General Zachary Mwangi told the National Assembly’s Committee on Implementation of the Constitution (CIOC) that the State hired 170,000 personnel to undertake the exercise.

Gathungu revealed that examination of the documents in support of the expenses, showed that the management transferred Sh500 million in form of imprest to the Kenya Police Service (KPS) to meet the allowances of security officers, during the exercise but the basis of the transfer was not supported by an agreement between the KPS and the Bureau to inform the amount required for security.

Gathungu said Sh10 million paid to non-security officers lacked the roles, names, details of the said non-officers and the reasons for their involvement in the census was not explained or documented.

“The surrendered documents did not contain details of the number of security officers that were deployed for the exercise, their respective stations, the number of days worked and the amounts received by each officer.

There were no daily attendance registers to authenticate the identity of officers that rendered the services at various locations as proof of participation in the exercise and hence justification for the payment.

There was no summary payment schedule breaking down the payments by region and station,” reads the report.

Data bundles

On the purchase of airtime, data bundles and sim cards from various telephone and internet service providers, at a cost of Sh218.1 million, Gathungu said that KNBS management did not provide analysis on the quantities of data bundles supplied, how much was utilised and how it was utilised over the period of the census.

“Under the current circumstances, the accuracy and the validity of the expenditure of Sh218,147,2690 could not be confirmed,” adds the report.

On Sh3.9 billion relating to the acquisition of tablets, solar tablet chargers and power banks for use of the census, Gathungu raised concerns that the detailed inventory receipt of the devices and issue to users were not provided for audit verification and thus could not confirm their accuracy.

On the payment of Sh3.2 billion to enumerators, content supervisors (Sh1.12 billion) and ICT supervisors (Sh195.5 million) totaling to Sh4.599 billion, Gathungu regretted that the amounts were captured as payments made from special census bank accounts that were maintained in all the 47 counties, but no details of the numbers for each category of staff per county was provided.

She observed that there were no details on the number of days worked and evidence of work done by way of signed attendance sheets for each person paid, adding that the management did not provide documents in support of recruitment at the counties of ICT supervisors content supervisors and enumerators.

“It was therefore not possible to establish how the enumerators, content supervisors and ICT supervisors were recruited,” adds the report.

On payment to village elders, who were engaged for nine days at a rate of Sh600 per day amounting to Sh1.1billion, Gathungu said it was not clear how they were identified and later recruited for the exercise in all the 47 counties.

She noted that although the management explained that the village elders are part of the National Government Administrative Officers and that assistant chiefs submitted the list of the elders to the county commissioners, who endorsed it and submitted it to the bureau for payment, the management did not provide the lists for audit verification.

“Consequently, the accuracy and validity of Sh1.1 billion spent on village elders in the 47 counties for the year ended 30th June, 2020 could not be confirmed,” reads the report.

On payment of the village elders through M-Pesa, Gathungu noted that payments recorded in the ledger for 45 counties could not be verified against the M-Pesa statements, as they were not provided for audit review.

She noted that the management provided M-Pesa statements for Nairobi and Nyandarua counties, which however contained anomalies.

Allowances paid

While the ledger provided in support of payments made in Nyandarua county reflected Sh10.2 million as the allowances paid to the elders, the M-Pesa statement for payment of the allowances indicated an amount of Sh9.8 million resulting in a variance of Sh351,000 while the ledger provided in support for payment of Nairobi County reflected Sh85.7 million as allowances paid but the Mpesa statements indicated an amount of Sh79.4 million resulting to a variance of Sh6.2 million.

Gathungu regretted that some of the elders were paid twice resulting in double payments of Sh1.9 million.

On payment of three surveys namely Kenya Continuously Household Survey Programme, Covid-19 and Pre-feasibility activities that also included research assistance costs amounting to Sh150.3million.

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