PRISONS DEPARTMENT ON THE LIMELIGHT AGAIN OVER LOSE OF 1BN THROUGH IRREGULAR PAYMENTS

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Taxpayers in Kenya have lost about Sh.1 billion in various irregular payments to suppliers who were either overpaid or failed to supply goods and services to the Prisons Department.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) heard that the department paid Sh.555.7 million to a number of suppliers and further overpaid Sh.419 million to suppliers who delivered various goods and services to prison stations across the country. It was also revealed that some of the payment vouchers at the stations exposed various irregularities, including failure to supply goods.

Ms. Zeinab Hussein, the Correctional Services Principal Secretary, told PAC that the irregular payments were part of the historical pending bills as at the end of June 2018 and backward to 2009. She added that there might have been instances of overpayment or payment to individuals who did not supply anything.

Nancy Gathungu Auditor-General, prompted the parliamentary probe after an audit query that flagged the payments in her report. The AG said audit on the payment vouchers exposed that the prisons department also paid suppliers at its headquarters who were not known to the stations and have never been contracted to supply rations in those stations. Also, some of the stations received goods despite having not ordered for or received ration on the dates indicated in the delivery notes.

The audit shows that seven prison stations book did not reflect orders or deliveries of the same while prison stations counter receipt book register (CRBR) did not have series of those counter receipt vouchers used.

Opiyo Wandayi, PAC Chair, said the issues raised by the auditor are grave. There is overpayment to genuine suppliers and payment to people who supplied hot air. There is a likely loss of Sh926 million and asked how were these payments made

The committee demanded a complete breakdown of names and amounts paid to suppliers who received Sh.419 million in overpayment and those who received Sh.555.7 million had irregularities including those paid for supplying air.

The Auditor General has been carrying out audit queries in several government departments to ensure public funds are all accounted for thus minimizing loss of these funds to graft perpetrators. Through such audit queries government is able to seal loopholes in the procurement sector to ensure funds are not lost hence providing quality services to publics and boost the country’s economy at large.

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