What you need to know:
- Governor Kang'ata revealed how contractors stole money from county coffers by cashing fake invoices for roads constructed using the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) or the Kenya Rural Roads Authority (Kerra).
- He said the Mwangi wa Iria administration (2013 to 2022) left him with another Sh340 million in unremitted statutory deductions.
Murang'a Governor Irungu Kang'ata has revealed how the pending bills verification exercise uncovered a scheme to steal more than Sh2 billion from the county coffers.
The scheme was hatched by the outgoing regime, which had forged outstanding bills to the tune of Sh2.7 billion, while the real bill after verification was Sh640 million, he said on Sunday.
"We have since paid Sh140.4 million and will pay another Sh50 million by the end of this month. Despite the delays in disbursement of county funds by the National Treasury, we have saved money from austerity measures and paid some of our genuine suppliers," he told Nation.Africa.
The governor said the Sh2 billion theft, if investigated, could reveal a catastrophic plunder during the 10 years of devolution.
He revealed how contractors stole money from county coffers by cashing fake invoices for roads constructed using the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) or the Kenya Rural Roads Authority (Kerra).
"These roads are financed by the government through devolved funds, but the county administration would be presented with bills by fake contractors," he said.
Other fake contractors would present bills for ghost projects and get paid, thus draining the county's resources that should have gone to the development kitty.
Dr Kang'ata said the Mwangi wa Iria administration (2013 to 2022) left him with another Sh340 million in unremitted statutory deductions.
"My administration has sought permission from the Controller of Budget to start servicing the bill in August. We have to balance budgeting for the debt, day-to-day running of the county, recurrent expenditure and development," he said.
He added that the county was also losing Sh200 million annually to 222 ghost workers. The county is said to be paying more than 4,000 workers, including 2,800 in the health sector.
It has emerged that the county has been running a digital and a manual payroll for the past eight years. The manual payroll was allegedly introduced to pay the unaccounted salaries.
The report recommends that the two payrolls be merged into one and that ghost workers be eliminated. As a result, some workers have been going without pay since December as the county continues to clean up its payroll.
In September last year, the county government, in consultation with the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), set up two committees to audit employees and outstanding bills in a bid to streamline recurrent expenditure.
Dr Kang'ata reiterated that all genuine bills will be paid "because from where I sit, I really believe in paying genuine debts...but unfortunately, no fake bill will be paid".
The governor said it was important that the exercise be discontinued as soon as possible and that a final list of outstanding bills with a payment schedule be submitted to the Budget Controller.
"This is important because it informs the priority of each county capitation. The payment of outstanding bills is considered a top priority," he said.
Dr Kang'ata said he would now rally the county assembly to endorse a payment plan for the genuine bills.
"Those who feel aggrieved can appeal to the National Audit Office or the Budget Controller," he said.
He said corruption was so entrenched in the county that it was "consuming our resources to the point where county workers go without salaries for months and development projects receive less than 30 per cent of total revenue".