Speaker, clerk on the spot over Sh20m county funds
Hillary Mageka @hillarymageka
Busia County Assembly Speaker Bernard Wamalwa and Clerk Allan Mabuka are on the spot regarding the whereabouts of Sh20 million the House recovered from Ward Reps and other staff who had been given salary advance.
The Senate County Public Accounts and Investments Committee (CPAIC) put the Assembly leadership to task over its weak salary advancement policy that has put the Sh6 million to risk of loss.
In addition, the leaders were also hard-pressed to explain why the Assembly has accumulated pending bills amounting to Sh53.11 million and failure to account for worth Sh23 million advanced to the Members of the County Assembly (MCAs).
Wamalwa and Mabuka appeared before CPAIC to respond to Financial Year 2017/18 audit queries flagged by former Auditor General Edward Ouko.
According to the report, the Assembly’s deposits and retention accounts had a balance of Sh20.54 million as at June 30, 2018.
However, there were no tangible documents available for audit review to confirm authenticity and accuracy of the balance.
“In addition, it was noted that during the year under review, the Assembly paid out retention money totaling Sh2.09 million out of the development account instead of making the repayment from the retention account,” the report.
Mabuka explained that the Sh20.54 million was money recovered from needy MCAs and staff who had been given salary advance.
“The money we advanced was budgeted for under employee compensation. We recovered it and deposited the money in the deposit and retention account,” the Clerk said.
The response triggered a barrage of questions from members who sought to know why the money advanced to MCAs and staff as salaries was channeled to the retention account meant for holding monies meant for contractors.
“This money was budgeted for a particular purpose, then it was channeled to giving people advanced salaries. Where is this money now?” Taita Taveta Senator Johannes Mwaruma posed.
Murang’a Senator Irungu Kangata said, “The money that was meant for development, they are now dishing it out to MCAs and staff as salary advance.”
Nandi’s Samson Cherargei said the ‘mix-up’ of account smells mischief that was meant to embezzle public money.
“The challenge of mixing mangoes and oranges is for mischievous purposes. You cannot mix accounts,” he reckoned.
Marsabit Senator Hargura Godana, who chaired the session, warned, “You need to put your foot down. Busia Assembly is not a welfare society for MCAs.”
The Clerk sought to explain that the law allows them to operate only three accounts – operational, recurrent and deposit and retention accounts.
“We thought the deposit and retention account was the best to receive the recoveries as we wait to transfer them to other accounts. The money is not lost,” he said.
The Assembly bosses were also hard pressed to explain why the institution has accumulated Sh53.11 million in pending bills and failure to recover Sh23.70 million in time.
“In the circumstances, huge pending bills might impact negatively on subsequent year’s budget information and implementation thus delaying the achievement of the county’s objectives,” reads the report.
The Clerk blamed the rampant failure by the county Treasury to remit monies meant for the Assembly for the accumulated pending bills.