By: JOHN NGIRACHU
The Auditor General is questioning how a government ministry spent Sh3.8 billion in one day. The expenditure, by the ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, is related to the purchase of arms, insurance for the police, vehicles and repair of helicopters.
The money in question was paid to local and foreign firms and mostly through local banks such as Kenya Commercial and National Bank of Kenya.
The firms include include: Agusta Westlands (Sh683 million), ISPRA/ISRAEL Product Research Co. (Sh271.9 million), Ecta (Sh31.2 million), Toyota Kenya Ltd (Sh56.1 million), D.T. Dobie (Sh59.4 million), Israel Weapon Industries (Sh68.2 million and Sh26.7 million), Lom Praha Trade (Sh370.4 million), Jino Motors Co. Ltd (Sh86.6 million), Polytechnologies Inc. (Sh38.9 million and Sh164.1 million), Silver Shadow Advanced Security Systems (Sh17.2 million), China North Industries Corporation (Sh101.4 million), Pioneer Assurance (Sh1.6 billion) and Steyr Mannlicher (Deftech Ltd) (Sh245.6 million).
The expenses were incurred in the 2014/2015 financial year and the Auditor-General appealed to the Principal secretary in the ministry to intervene and have the necessary documents provided for audit.
Curiously, all the payments were made on June 30, 2015.
“Initial observations have revealed that these vouchers were not adequately supported as required under Section 5.5.13 and 5.5.14 of the Government Financial Regulations and Procedures,” the Auditor-General said in a letter signed by S.K. Chibole.
“The audit is incomplete due to lack of tender documents and other records that we requested in the above mentioned letter,” said Chibole.
In addition, the Auditor-General asked to review bank statements for an account the ministry holds at Kenya Commercial Bank.
The Auditor-General said that without those documents, it was not possible to determine whether the expenditures comply with the Public Finance Management Act and the Constitution in line with his mandate.
The letter was written on August 25 and was read out to Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Nkaissery at the start of the ministry’s meeting with the Public Accounts Committee.
Mr Nkaissery, however, refused to discuss the letter, saying: “I’m hearing about the letter from the Auditor-General for the first time today.”
The ministry was also unable to offer a coherent explanation on the process of acquiring new-generation number plates, in which machines have been supplied but there is a tussle regarding the supply of the raw materials.
One of the companies, Lam Praha Trade, is a Czech firm that was reported to have overhauled MI-17 helicopters operated by the police yet it did not have a valid certificate.
Mr Nkaissery said the urgency to overhaul the helicopters was realised after the Garissa University College attack in April but that Lom Praha submitted a certificate of overhaul valid up to November 2016.
He refused to go into details in the presence of the media, and the committee then invoked standing orders that allow the chairman to order a closed sitting.
Before that, the Cabinet secretary also dismissed allegations that the government procured firearms from “friendly” manufacturers who supplied second-hand arms and ammunition.
Mr Nkaissery told the Public Accounts Committee the contracts for the firearms were given to reputable companies and offered to have two MPs accompany the team going to inspect the arms before their shipment to Kenya.
The Cabinet secretary, however, revealed the extent of lobbying over the matter and how he had tried to deal with it, even asking the President and the Deputy President how far he ought to go on such issues.
“I don’t know who these companies are and in the security sector, we don’t buy second-hand arms. Who are these friendly manufacturers? I want the committee to tell me who they are,” said the Cabinet secretary.
Mr Gumbo, however, pointed out that the firms were described as “friendly” by the makers of the allegations and that is how the Clerk of the National Assembly used quotation marks in the letter to the ministry. He said one was known as Prime Five Government Manufacturing Limited.
“It is you who is quoting and unquoting. We don’t know who they are. You need to tell me who they are,” said Mr Nkaissery.
He said that in the first 90 days after he took over the Interior and Coordination ministry, “there was a lot of traffic of vendors and cartels” in the corridors of Harambee House.
He said he met the President and the Deputy President to ask what the “boundaries and red lines” on such matters were and was told to go all the way.
“I kicked out the vendors. I know one vendor who has been shuttling between Harambee House and Harambee House Annex and one day I kicked him out of my office,” said Mr Nkaissery.
Mr Nkaissery and Coordination Principal Secretary Josephta Mukobe, however, could not coherently explain the ministry’s position regarding the tender for the development of new-generation number plates.
Ms Mukobe explained the process through which the Prisons Department ended up with machines to make the plates supplied but the staff was yet to be trained and the raw materials for the process yet to be supplied.
They were asked to get their documents together and meet the committee another time.
SOURCE: DAILY NATION