Kenya: Wangamati Grilled Over Use of Sh6.5 Million to Fuel Private Cars

A Senate committee has taken Bungoma Governor Wycliffe Wangamati to task to explain why his office and that of his deputy spent Sh6,531,792 million to fuel private vehicles.

According to the Auditor-General's report for the year ended June 30, 2019, the amount was spent to fuel the vehicles whose log books and registration numbers were not provided.

Governor Wangamati appeared before the Senate County Public Accounts and Investment Committee (CPAIC) chaired by Migori Senator Ochilo Ayacko to respond to audit queries raised in the report.

In response, Mr Wangamati said his administration had allowed county executive employees to use their personal vehicles since the devolved unit had not purchased its own vehicles.

"I have been using my personal vehicle for the last two years before I acquired an official vehicle. This also applied to our county executives who were forced to use their personal vehicles while on official duties," said Mr Wangamati.

Provide car documents

The Senate committee gave the county government two weeks to provide all the documents relating to the audit query, including the log books for verification by auditors.

Senator Ayacko asked the auditors to scrutinise the documents and submit their findings to the committee within a week.

He made his ruling after committee members, senators Fatuma Dullo and Christopher Langat, raised issues with the manner the county government had responded the issue.

Senator Dullo said government procedures are very clear on the use and hiring of private vehicles for use by public officers.

Probe petrol station

Senator Langat said the auditors should revisit the issue and establish whether the petrol station which fuelled the vehicles was picked through as competitive process.

The Senate watchdog committee kicked off its sittings at the Invest and Grow plaza in Kakamega town Thursday.

According to the Auditor-General, some of the vehicles which were fuelled were owned by people who were not county executive employees.

The Auditor-General, in his report, said it was difficult to ascertain the ownership of some of the vehicles since the log books were not provided for audit verification.

No time to verify documents

Auditors from the Auditor-General's office said they had received the responses from the county executive shortly before the meeting kicked off and had not had time to verify documents.

Other audit queries raised included the payment of Sh59, 847,989 million by the county government as legal fees to different legal firms.

The Auditor-General said the schedules for the payments could not be ascertained as they were not signed and lacked supporting documents.

The Senate committee wanted to know why the schedules were signed after the payments had been made, prompting Senator Ayacko to direct the auditors to go back and verify the documents and report to committee.

Foreign travel

Governor Wangamati and the county executive were hard pressed to explain an expenditure of Sh23,346,053 on foreign air travel and subsistence.

According to the auditors, the records on foreign travel and subsistence had revealed payments of Sh12,021,100 million made without approval. The reported air travel by county officers was not supported by boarding passes.

Senator Dullo said the auditors should scrutinise the boarding passes to verify whether they tallied with the particulars of the county officers.

Meanwhile, the Senate committee has asked Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong to hire competent staff in the county's finance department to strengthen operations and improve efficiency.

This comes after the Auditor-General issued an adverse opinion on the audited accounts and financial statements for the year 2018/2019.

The committee faulted the decision by Governor Ojaamong to hire the county's Finance executive and chief officer in acting capacity.

In response, the governor said his Finance executive and chief officer had a court matter and were forced to step aside from their duties, forcing him to appoint officers in acting capacity.

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