Kajiado Governor Joseph Ole Lenku was on Monday grilled over reports his county government may have spent KSh425 million to pay fake pending bills.
The county paid the money to clear part of the KSh1.19 billion debts the county had declared to have accumulated since the start of devolution in 2013.
However, the Senate Public Accounts and Investments Committee hard-pressed the governor to explain the payments after Auditor General Edward Ouko questioned the bills.
Ouko, in his 2017-18 audit report on the financial operations of the county, indicated the county could neither authenticate the cumulated bills nor support the KSh425 million it paid to the contractors.
“The county has not maintained an updated individual creditor register or ledger with full details of the creditors regarding work done or services rendered, invoices, local purchase or service orders, certificates of completion, evidence of delivery and suppliers statements,” the report reads in part.
Committee chairman Senator Moses Kajwang (Homa Bay) pushed the governor to explain why his administration paid the money yet there were no document to prove the county incurred the bills.
“You spent KSh425, 221, 544 to pay pending bills whose authenticity could not be verified. A normal person outside there will say that you pocketed this money because there is no evidence to show that you actually paid,” he said.
The governor defended his administration, saying his officers made the payments for bills that were verified as genuine.
“We had a total debt of KSh1, 192, 027, 739 as at the end of 2016-17 financial year. In the following year, we paid KSh425, 221, 544 leaving a balance KSh766, 806, 193. Therefore, saying that the bills were fake is not true and should be expunged,” he said.
Lenku was also questioned over some KSh159 million that the county government incurred on domestic travel for its officers outside the Integrated Financial Management Information (IFMIS) as required by law. This raised concerns that the money could have been embezzled.
The audit report showed that only KSh87.90 million out of the KSh247.78million spent on travel was captured in the system.
“There was no evidence that the two sets of records were reconciled,” Ouko said in the report seen by Capital FM News.
He explained that variance between the IFMIS and the financial statement was caused by a delay to upload journals into the automated system.
The governor was appearing before the committee for the second time after the meeting was adjourned on Wednesday last week when auditors who scrutinized the county’s financial statements failed to show up.