CoG secretariat running rogue, says chief auditor
The Office of the Auditor General has questioned the legality of the existence of the Council of Governor’s (COG) secretariat, which has in the last three financial years entered into questionable contracts worth Sh2 billion.
In a report tabled in the National Assembly yesterday, the Auditor General regrets that the Inter-governmental Relations Act of 2012 does not recognise the existence and functions of the Council of Governors’ secretariat.
The report says section 17 of the InterGovernmental Relations Act only stipulates that the technical committee may employ officers and staff for its secretariat as necessary for the proper discharge of the functions of the committee, the Council of Governors and the Summit.
Some of the contentious contracts to have been entered into include payment of legal expenses, compensation of employees, transfers from other government entities, travel and substance expenses, bank guarantees between the secretariat and a local bank to Toyota Kenya as well as staff loan fund agreement between the secretariat and Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB).
The report read in part: “The Council of Governor’s secretariat has over the last three financial years entered into several contracts and paid a total of Sh2,044,741,170 whose appropriation may be inappropriate.”
Of the questionable Sh2 billion include Sh31.1 million paid to one lawyer who was handling cases between the COG and various arms of the national government including Senate, National Assembly and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) yet no justification was provided for appointing the lawyer to handle the cases.
On domestic travel and subsistence the secretariat is on the spot over Sh43 million spent to pay for helicopter and chartered flights to a service provider yet no documents were availed for audit. On employees compensation the secretariat is being questioned over how it recruited and promoted staff in various categories which resulted to an increase in the amount of compensation to Sh60.2 million in the 2016/2017 financial year, up from Sh29.4 million the previous year, representing a 105 per cent increase.
Regarding guarantees between the secretariat and local banks to Toyota Kenya, the Auditor General regretted that he could not confirm accuracy and validity of the pacts while on staff loan fund the secretariat is being queried over the agreement which the bank was appointed financier to employees’ special housing scheme.
Says the report: “The process of appointment of KCB Bank as the scheme administrator was not documented to enable verification of the legality and efficiency of the process.”
Consequently, the Auditor General has also raised concerns over Sh15.3 million in respect to payments for charter services on behalf of Meru and Kisii counties which was yet to be recovered from the two counties. Questions also arose over Sh196.9 million rental proceeds, utilities and services in respect of eight floors of the Delta House yet lease agreement and procurement documents do not show how the offices were identified.
In addition, the Auditor General also raised queries over unauthorised expenditure of Sh115.9 million incurred after recruitment and promotion of various officers that resulted in an increase in amount of salaries and wages without the advice of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission. Various other expenditures , such as intergovernmental contributions of Sh45.6 million, rentals on county government liaison offices Sh84.9 million and Sh90 million in respect of devolution conference from the 47 county governments.