County Pays Millions To Staff With Duplicate IDs, Accounts

File image of Kenyan banknotes
File image of Kenyan banknotes

The County Government of Vihiga is on the spot over irregular financial reporting that stems from the 2018-2019 Financial Year.

According to Auditor General, Nancy Gathungu, in her report for the year under review, the county erred in its financial management and could not satisfactorily explain the glaring spending irregularities.

The county, which is led by Governor Wilber Ottichilo, received an Adverse Opinion from the Auditor General after its financial reports failed to meet the minimum set reporting threshold.

In the months of April and May 2019, the county paid a total of Ksh2,041,795 to employees with duplicate national identification numbers. This was also reflected in the duplicated bank account numbers that received a total of Ksh 1,943,518.

Vihiga County Governor Wilberforce Ottichilo speaking on February 12, 20221.
Vihiga County Governor Wilberforce Ottichilo speaking on February 12, 20221.

In yet another case in the same period of April and May 2019, the county records show the existence of a duplicate payroll entry that received a total of Ksh 138,970.

A review of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Database (IPPD)and bank records showed that five employees of the county were paid a total of Ksh 1,703,394.90 through a single account at a commercial bank branch in Machakos.

According to the Auditor General’s report, the county could also not explain the monumental variation in employees’ compensation amounting to Ksh 347,598,758.15 for the year under review.

The auditor notes that the statement of payments and receipts reflected an amount of Ksh1,965,847,487 but the IPPD payroll reflected a gross pay of Ksh 1,618,248,728.85, hence the huge difference.

In yet another financial reporting irregularity pointed out by the Office of the Auditor General, the county paid Ksh 26,100,000 as compensation for design, documentation and supervision of the works for the construction of the Governor and deputy governor’s residences.

The report further reveals that a contract sum of Ksh 93,173,751 was awarded for the governor’s residence, and another Ksh 55,352,874 for the deputy governor’s residence.

In total, the contracts for the two residences and the supervision of works cost the taxpayer Ksh 174,626,625, exceeding the set ceiling of Ksh 80,000,000 by Ksh 94,626,625.

The county is also being accused of disregarding public procurement procedures in purchasing a piece of land for the construction of a health centre. The Auditor General’s office notes that the county government paid a sum of Ksh 4,200,000, leaving a balance of Ksh 1,300,000 of the Ksh 5,500,000 agreed fee for the 0.39 ha piece of land owned by two individuals.

The auditor, however, notes that the procured land had existing cautions, inhibitions and restrictions, all placed on varied dates.

The county government is also facing audit queries over the irregular transfer of Ksh 201,131,496 to other government entities including Ksh 42,525,000 to State Department of Vocational Training in respect of Village Polytechnic Fund and Ksh 12,657,201 as compensation of user fees under the Primary Care Health System.

An examination of the county’s Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) revealed the existence of duplicate payments by the Health Department to suppliers. The department paid a total of Ksh 96,845,980 instead of Ksh 48,422,990.

The county is also at pains to explain why it paid Ksh 314,349,499 in cash to suppliers during the year under review, contrary to government regulations outlawing cash payments. 

Vihiga is one of the few counties that registered adverse opinions, an indication that its accounting and financial reporting falls way below the recommended International Public Sector Accounting Standards.

Vihiga County Governor Wilber Ottichilo
Vihiga County Governor Wilber Ottichilo during a press conference on Thursday, October 5, 2019.
The Standard