Senators demand Narok county officials sacking over Sh300m irregular spending

Wednesday, May 15th, 2024 02:30 | By
Protests a threat to tourism, says Ntutu
Narok County Governor Patrick ole Ntutu.

A Senate oversight committee has demanded that some officials in Narok County be fired for spending millions of shillings outside the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS).

This even as Narok Governor Patrick Ole Ntutu’s administration was taken to task over improper presentation of financial documents misclassification of expenditure and double requisition.

In addition, Ntutu was also put on the spot why Narok County continues to be flagged by the Auditor-General over diversion of funds and duplication of requisitions.

Appearing before the Senate County Public Accounts Committee chaired by Homa Bay lawmaker Moses Kajwang’, Ntutu was hard pressed on why his administration has continued to retain incompetent staff who have also been flagged for preparing shambolic financial statements with more than Sh300 million unaccounted for.

The Senators now wants Heads of the Finance and Economic Planning CEC David Ole Muntet and the Director IFMIS at the County government to be fired or reshuffled.

This comes amidst the Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu’s report that the devolved unit is presiding over lack of proper reconciliation of the county’s finances, exposing the devolved unit to the risk of losing tax-payers money.

“We will be ruthless on the individuals who are professionals and employed to handle such matters. This is not acceptable because you have got people you have employed who are just deadwood. They cannot do what they are employed to do,” said Kajwang’.

Samson Cherargei (Nandi) questioned why administrative action should not be taken on the two officers despite the financial statements attracting the worst audit opinion. “We need to write to ICPAK to take action on the officers involved in the preparation of the financial statements with adverse opinion for professional misconduct,” he said.

During the probe on the audit reports, Narok had been fingered by Ms Gathungu over unsupported adjustments amounting to Sh317 million and Sh37.8 million in adjustments in the financial year ending June 30, 2021 without supporting documents.

According to the audit report, the county’s accounting officers are unable to reconcile their statements of receipts and balances in financial statements and IFMIS leading to unexplained variances.

“There is no comfort you (governor) can take to address this reconciliation issue that was raised three years ago. There are some officers in Narok who are being paid for doing nothing. The discrepancies are very huge. There is a big problem here,” said John Methu (Nyandarua).

In his response before the committee, Ntutu said the Director of IFMIS is the one responsible for the reconciliation, adding that the current officer assumed office in October 2022 having changed the Finance minister and the Chief Finance Officer (CFO) in an effort to clean up the financial statements.

Ledama Olekina (Narok) charged that even after making the changes, there have been continued duplication of requisitions and diversion of funds.

“All these point to incompetence and something has to be done. The CEC Finance is incompetent. This clandestine manner of responding to audit queries must stop,” said Olekina.

The Narok lawmaker further accused the devolved unit of sending a requisition to the Controller of Budget (COB) but after approval, spends the money somewhere else.

Kajwang’ raised the issue of how Sh246million spent on fuel, oil and lubricants reflected on the financial statement but not on IFMIS.

He charged that reconciliation should be done monthly and before the 10th of every month and so someone is sleeping on their job.

“Since 2013 to date, no one has seen fit to engage the National Treasury to solve the issues not until March 4, 2024. Why should the director of IFMIS continue being paid?” he posed.

However, Muntet admitted that his officers still have capacity issues dealing with the financial management system while also claiming that the system has some problems.

 “Why is that every time you request for money through IFMIS, it works but when it comes to reconciliation, the system does not work?” questioned Richard Onyonka (Kisii).

Okiya Omtatah (Busia) said that what was going in Narok is a classic case of voiding procurement and money being used somewhere else.

“They void a transaction and spend outside IFMIS but are not smart enough to have the figures match,” said Omtatah.

Kajwang’ said they will come up with a list of shame of all accounting officers whose reports have attracted either disclaimer or adverse opinions with a view of barring them from holding office.

“We must move a motion in the Senate to say such officers are unfit to hold public office.”

According to Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), Narok County has been notorious for failing to use IFMIS with accounting officers in different departments having no access to the system and only signing authority to incur expenditure (AIE) authorization for expenditure with IFMIS only in the Finance department.

“Funds are requisitioned through IFMIS but once they are approved, they are transferred to commercial bank accounts in large sums and spent outside IFMIS,” said EACC.

Governor Ntutu, however, defended himself saying that things have changed in the county in regard to how they do their requisition.

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