The stage for looting the Busia County Government coffers has been set with the governor SospeterOjaamong’s office proposed to be allocated a whooping lion’s share of Kshs. 578, 365, 527 (8.7%) of the total county’s budget in the current financial year.
The proposals clearly indicate that Ojaamong’s office is set to get more funding compared to those proposed to be allocated to key ministries like health, agriculture, roads, transport and public works and even the county assembly itself.
The worst scenario emerges by virtue of the fact that the office will get double allocations including that of the ministry for information, communications and republic relations which the governor hoarded under his docket.
According to the budget proposals presented to the Busia County Assembly for approval other proposed huge amounts of cash whose usage is not clearly stated include:“Kshs.428, 365, 527 just posted as current expenditures without indications for what?”
The other is a Kshs. 150, 000, 000 capital expenditures without detailing or even pointing out what kind of capital are we or are they talking about in which that office is currently involved in or is going to undertake.
Kshs. 50, 000, 000 proposed allocation for disaster preparednessis another area that is highly volatile since the county has over the years been notoriously known for annual floods in Budalangi sub-county which the national government managed to contain before the devolved structures came into force. The only disaster in the recent past having hit the county is the medical fiasco in Akichelesit of Teso North Sub-county which left more than 25 children paralyzed and the county government left emasculated to do anything.
The story of the proposed looting does not stop there since the estimates are proposing the allocation of Kshs. 50, 000, 000 for the construction of an office block II whereas Phase I itself is non-existent on the ground.
Indeed it is public knowledge that Ojaamong inherited the former Busia Municipal Council offices, and apart from mediocre but expensive renovations he undertook – there are no other construction works in the county being undertaken by the governor’s office apart from various ministries and the county assembly that have their own budgets for construction works.
Mr. Ojaamong has also proposed to allocate his office Kshs. 50,000, 000 for special programmes – publishing, printing and broadcasting bringing into question when did publishing, printing and broadcasting come under special programmes when the county government does not even have a printing press, radio or television station.
Not to mention the fact that such expenditures should be covered in an independent ministry of information, communications and public relations budget that he hoarded under his wing which brings in the question of double budgeting or double looting.
The other critical proposed expenditures that must be brought into question is the proposed:“Kshs. 30, 000, 000 inter-governmental relations and why this kind of money is required and in any case what kind of relations are we talking about that require such a whooping amount of money?”
The proposal to spend Kshs20, 000, 000 for allegedly purchasing materials and equipment is vague and leaves plenty of room for the money to be looted just like the Bungoma case recently where the Auditor General revealed that Kshs. 500, 000 were used to purchase each wheelbarrow – where in the world does a wheelbarrow cost that kind of money?
Ironically in the same proposals the critical ministry of health was only allocated a mere Kshs350, 000, 000 purchase medical supplies, Kshs. 10, 000, 000 operationalization of the medical training school, Kshs. 17, 000,000, 000 for purchase of medical equipment for wards dispensaries in the county’s 35 wards and Kshs. 11, 912, 500 designated to cover vague legislative development and policy formulation.
It must not be forgotten that in his audit report for the last financial year, the country’s AuditorGeneral, Edward Ouko revealed that Kshs. 16, 531, 593 was illegally paid to ghost workers totaling 120 most of who are employed by the county assembly that conspires with the executive to loot the county’s coffers.
Mr. Auko’s report also revealed that the county government’s internal audit is operating without the mandatory audit committee, which gives room for pilfering of the county funds since there is no transparent and accountable internal audit system.
The other areas where serious queries were raised without answers to date include incomplete payment vouchers, abuse of the Local Purchase Orders (LPOs) without leaving behind copies in the files, abuse of transport expenditures in which more than Kshs. 7.124 million was lost, over expenditure on the same that Kshs. 127 million was allegedly spent.
The Auditor General also found that despite the county government bragging that it had successfully executed or was in the process of doing so many development projects, more than Kshs. 2.6 million was lost on un-implemented development projects.
The other most critical factor in the emerging scenario is the fact that members of the public have been completely eclipsed out of the budgetary processes of the county in total contravention of the constitutional and legal requirements thus leaving the billions of shillings belonging to the county at the whims and mercy of a few characters at the executive and the county assembly to manipulate and pilfer.