Auditor General Edward Ouko exposes Sh3.5b scandal at grain reserve

Friday, August 2nd, 2019 00:00 |
Former Auditor General Edward Ouko. Photo/FILE

Auditor General Edward Ouko has unveiled a scam at the Strategic Grain Reserve (SGR) where the price of maize imports was inflated by Sh3.5 billion.

In an audit report tabled in the National Assembly yesterday, Ouko showed the State agency had imported maize worth Sh31.3 billion, but inflated the amount to Sh34.8 billion.

“The SGR amount differed with that of Sh31.3 billion reflected in the records of the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) by Sh 3.5 billion. No reconciliation or explanation was provided for the variance,” reads the report tabled by Leader of Majority Aden Duale.

The report also raises concerns over condemned maize stored in various NCPB depots worth Sh342.4 million, which was found to contain high levels of aflatoxins by the health ministry, thus not fit for human consumption.

The maize was stored in eight NCPB depots—Machakos (10,710 bags), Nairobi (5,427 bags)Meru (14,460 bags), Isiolo (11,663 bags), Migori (1,504 bags), Nakuru (54,597 bags), Lugari (26,264 bags) and Kitale (51,640 bags).

Vet farmers

The auditor also raised concern over the SGR’s move to procure maize from farmers at a cost of Sh11 billion without having the necessary documentation. The agency is also on the spot for failure to adequately vet farmers.

In 11 sampled depots, the report indicates, some forms used for vetting farmers were similar to others , without the required signatures of agricultural officer, assistant chief and ward administrator, while others had no section for evidence of size of land owned or leased by the farmers to show how much each farmer was capable of producing.

Further, the agency bought maize worth Sh288.6 million before farmers had presented all the required approval documents, contrary to the guidelines issued by the NCPB managing director.

 “There was no evidence that the accounting officers responsible for the fund and NCPB entered into an agreement on the performance of its procurement function of receipt, inspection, and recording to ensure the quality and quantity were received and to ensure adherence to the Public Procurement and Disposal Act 2015, on receipt and inspection of procured maize,” reads the 2018 report.

Maize shortage

On the supply of maize by farmers, Ouko said he could not ascertain whether the farmers who supplied the maize owned land to produce the said number of bags.

“Although there were no set maximum limits of maize delivery, the practicability of one farmer delivering 10,000 bags and above could not be verified,” he said.

The report was tabled in the wake of shortage of maize, with the Agriculture Cabinet secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri indicating the government would import to plug the deficit.

There is also confusion over the exact quantity of maize currently held by the NCPB and millers.

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