Why high ranking state officers now risk losing their jobs

Auditor general Dr Edward Ouko. /FILE

Have you noticed the big sums of money getting lost daily in government ministries? The  parliamentary watchdog has now shifted its eyes on top officials holding big government officials.

High ranking State officers including a Cabinet Secretary could lose their jobs if recommendations of a parliamentary watchdog are adopted and implemented.

In an unprecedented move and buoyed by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s anti-graft war, the Parliamentary Accounts Committee has incriminated several accounting officers for dubious expenditures during the Jubilee administration’s first term.

Top on the list is Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma, former Attorney General Githu Muigai and several Principal secretaries indicted by the auditor general’s report for Financial Year 2014/2015.

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Among the PSs incriminated by the PAC are Cooperatives PS Ali Ismail Noor, Petroleum Chief Administrative Secretary John Musonik and the Registrar of the Judiciary, Anne Amadi.

The report also nails PSs already dropped from government —Nduva Muli (Transport), Richard Lesiyampe (Environment), Khadijah Kassachom (Health) and Richard Ekai (Sports).

Juma, who served as Interior PS at the time is indicted for a Sh1.7 billion comprehensive group life insurance cover for the Police and Prisons services.

The committee report reveals that Juma awarded the lucrative tender to one of the highest bidders at Sh1.74 billion, although it was almost three times higher than the lowest bid of Sh629 million.

Apart from the alleged tender flaw, PAC says the contract was hurriedly signed against the law.

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According to The Star, the committee led by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi has recommended that EACC and the DCI should investigate the entire procurement process.

“Much as provision of Comprehensive Group Life Insurance Cover for National Police and Kenya Prisons Service Staff was particularly required, the Accounting Officer erred and did not adhere to the provisions of the Public Procurement and Disposal Act, 2005,” PAC says.

“She [Juma] should, therefore, be investigated with a view to being prosecuted, if found culpable.”

A section of Mt Kenya politicians led by Kandara MP Alice Wahome had alleged that a firm linked to Juma’s husband, academician Peter Kagwanja, had an interest in the insurance contract.

Kagwanja dismissed the allegations.

In what is perhaps the strongest rebuke, PAC says Ismail, who worked as Labour PS, has “consistently demonstrated his inability to manage public finances.”

As a result, the committee says the PS lacks the capacity to be an accounting officer, setting the stage for his dismissal.

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“The Cabinet Secretary National Treasury should never at any time appoint Ali Noor Ismail as an Accounting Officer for any State Department/Government Agency. If Mr Noor is presently an accounting officer, his appointment should be revoked within three months of adoption of this report,” notes the report.

The committee directs that EACC and DCI probes Sh5.2 million purportedly paid by the Ministry of Labour for the procurement of advertising and flowers.

Noor paid the Sh5.2 million as part of pending bills without any payment vouchers.

In particular, the committee has directed that the former Principal Secretary be investigated in connection with the illegal payments and be surcharged if he fails to provide supporting documents.

Further, the report says Noor should also be held responsible for issuing a further imprest of Sh1.574 million to officers who had not surrendered previous imprests.

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should he also be held liable for not recovering an outstanding imprest of Sh2.5 million?

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