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Ouko queries Interior ministry Sh8.6bn ‘secret’ account

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The auditor general has raised concerns over the use of more than Sh8.6 billion at the Interior ministry.

In an audit report between 2013 and 2017, Ouko said the Interior ministry has been running an illegal account bank account at Kenya Commercial Bank, Moi Avenue.

The auditor said examination of the availed bank statements revealed the Interior ministry had transferred Sh8,696,113,050 to bank account No.1109896077 at Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) Moi Avenue Branch between June 2013 and January 2017.

Ouko said despite these massive transactions, the Fred Matiang’i-led ministry did not disclose the account.

“The Ministry opened and has been operating bank account No.1109896077 at KCB contrary to Section 28(1) of the Public Finance Management Act, 2012 which requires authority of the National Treasury to open and operate bank accounts,” he said.

Read: Matiang’i’s Interior ministry, Police top EACC’s graft survey

Ouko added, “The Ministry does not maintain a cash book, bank reconciliations and related payment records in support of cash transfers and withdrawals from the account, contrary to Regulations 90 and 104 of the Public Finance Management (National Government) Regulations, 2015”.

Ouko said it had been established that the ministry’s financial statements for the year ending June 30, 2016 did not disclose the balance in the said account.

 

Procurement of Twin Turbine Engine VIP Carrier Helicopter at Sh2.2 billion

Ouko said although tendering and contract documents for the VIP helicopter were not availed for audit review, the ministry explained that the purchase of helicopter was classified.

“Although the entire contract sum of Sh2,276,740,840 has so far been paid through a Letter of Credit, the State Department has only availed Payment Voucher No. 328 dated 30 June 2016 for Sh683,022,252, being 30 per cent of the contract sum,” Ouko noted.

 

Helicopter accident

The audit report further indicates that examination of records showed that Augusta Westland AW-139 Helicopter (5Y-NPS) was registered on 26 April 2016 and crashed on 08 September 2016 at a time when the helicopter should have been under warranty.

He said further investigations could not be carried out on the loss arising from the accident as required.

The report said in the absence of the accident report, it is not possible to categorise the loss of helicopter in terms of natural cause; technical or pilot’s error, the basis upon which the loss could be recovered.

Read: Interior ministry shocks MPs with ‘secret’ purchase of Sh4 billion helicopters

“No explanation has been given for failure to release the accident report by the Cabinet Secretary in accordance with Regulation 18(1) of Civil Aviation (Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation) Regulation 2013,” he said.

The report indicates Interior ministry confirmed that the Helicopter was not insured just like any other Government Equipment which further complicates the recovery of the loss totaling Sh2,276,740,840.

“The Ministry has further confirmed that the helicopter did not have a warranty as a unit but parts such as avionics had,” read part of the report.

The report said failure to avail required warranties for avionics makes it impossible to determine whether the helicopter was new or refurbished.

The Ministry also failed to give details of avionics parts purportedly under warranty or give reasons for failure by the manufacturer to compensate lost parts under warranty.

 

Irregular procurement of footwear worth Sh267,876,000

Ouko said an examination of the approved Procurement Plan for the 2014-15 financial year showed that 26,500 pairs of footwear were approved for purchase.

He said the details disclosed on payment vouchers however indicated that 78,000 pairs of footwear valued at Sh267,876,000 were supplied and paid for.

“It is therefore evident that 51,500 pairs of footwear valued at Sh175,893,000 were purchased and paid in excess of the approved quantity contrary to Section 51(3) of the Public Finance Management Regulations, 2015 which requires commitments of expenditures to be consistent with approved procurement plan for the entity,” he said.

The Interior Ministry in their defense explained that the procurement of additional pairs of shoes was necessitated by recruitment of 10,000 more police trainees.

“However, verifications show that 4,000 trainees were at Kenya Police Training College in Kiganjo and 2,000 trainees were at General Service Unit while the procurement of additional 4,000 footwear for the Administration Police officers was undertaken and paid for separately,” Ouko said.

The audit report further notes some fictitious entry in stores records where by the information disclosed on stores ledger and stock control for shoes had been falsified as the same card number discloses different information on April 19, 2016 and May 31, 2017.

In addition, Ouko said examination of some stores card numbers reflected unexplained increase of 5,000 and 2,000 pairs of footwear respectively, whose source of receipts had not been indicated or explained.

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“A reconciliation undertaken on sample basis for 12 Police Divisions across the country show that 454 pairs of foot wear were ordered and 63 pairs were issued while the record at Police Quarter Master in Nairobi is falsified to indicate that 392 pairs of footwear were issued,” he said.

Further, examination of records showed that 57 police field units had requested for 12,852 pairs of foot wears and they were issued with 3,763 pairs resulting in a shortfall of 9,089 pairs that were not available in the store.

Ouko said a physical check of the condition of shoes being used by the police across the country revealed a pathetic and unpleasant situation as some officers use wornout shoes while others have opted to buy shoes from various vendors.

“This action contravenes Chapter 37 Section 7(i) and 19(i) on dress regulations for police officers under standing orders which require all police officers to be in uniform,” he said.

 

Irregular Procurement of Chinese Motor Cycles

According to the report, examination of records relating to the procurement of motor cycles at a total cost of Sh866,200,000 showed that the purchase was not included in the Approved Procurement Plan for the Financial Year 2015/2016, contrary to Regulations 51(3), (5) and (6) of the Public Finance Management (National Government) Regulations, 2015.

The report indicates that examination of records showed that a supplier was paid Sh866,200,000 for the delivery of 4,420 motor cycles.

However, the procurement was based on expired supplies branch tender no. SB/18/2013/2014-Supply of Motor cycles which is not provided for in the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, 2015.

In the report, Ouko said records indicated that 5 out of 7 prequalified suppliers were contracted through the expired tender to supply 2420 Chinese assembled motorcycles (181-200cc).

“However, the State Department has not justified the basis for procuring the motorcycles at a unit rate of Kshs.210,000 instead of the lowest evaluated bidder’s rate of Sh161,733 a unit, resulting in a loss of Sh116,806,140,” Ouko noted.

Ouko said the State Department further procured another 2,000 Chinese assembled motorcycles (151-180cc) at a unit rate of Sh179,000 instead of the lowest bidder’s rate of Sh150,000 resulting in a loss of Sh58 million.

“The State Department, therefore, paid a total of Sh174,806,140 in excess of the prevailing market price contrary to Regulation 10(2)(e) of the Public Procurement and Disposal Regulations, 2006,” he said.

Read: Matiang’i’s interior ministry is the most corrupt – EACC

Ouko said although, these motorcycles were verified and found to exist, challenges relating to maintenance due to lack of spares and failure to provide helmets were observed.

“In the above circumstances, the value of Sh174,806,140 paid in excess of prevailing market price could not be confirmed as required under Section 68(1)(b) of Public Finance Management Act, 2012,” he added.

 

Irregular use of Letters of Credit 

Examination of available records showed that 43 LCs valued at Sh8,696,113,050 were paid through the account by the State Department for Interior.

Ouko said the bank statements availed for audit however reflected only one payment of LC amounting to Sh90,225,000.

“In this regard therefore, the Ministry and the bank have not clarified how the other 42 LCs valued at Sh8,605,888,050 were discharged,” he said.

 

Incomplete Bank Statements

Ouko said a look at the payment vouchers showed that the State Department transferred Sh339,982,351 on 30 June 2015 to the said account but the bank statement made available for audit did not reflect receipt of this amount, an indication that the statement is neither authentic nor complete.

 

Mismanagement of bail cash

Ouko said another review of controls in place for management of cash bails in 5 police stations revealed that a total of Sh6,288,000 was collected but not surrendered.

The Auditor said Mombasa did not surrender Sh1,159,000, Kilimani failed to surrender Sh1,266,000 while Kasarani stuck with Sh3,863,000

He said there were no miscellaneous receipts to show that the cash had been surrendered to Police Headquarters as required under Section 51 (i)(c) of the Kenya Police Standing Orders (2002).

Read: Uhuru now goes after tender officers in graft war

The cash was also not availed for cash survey.

“In addition, Some Sh205,000 and Sh1,437,000, in respect of un-refunded and unfortified cash bails was not surrendered and was being held by Base Commander in Siaya and Pangani OCS contrary to Sections 51(1)(c) and 49(9) Kenya Police Standing Orders 2002,” Ouko said.

 

Lost cash bail books

In addition, records maintained at Kenya Police Headquarters, Nairobi indicate that 10 Cash Bail Books were issued to OCPD Mombasa but the same books were not availed during an audit verification exercise carried out on 24 August 2016 and therefore, their existence and usage could not be ascertained.

Also Read:  Ruto: My office leading war on graft, no friends spared

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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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