Magoha and team blamed for misuse of sh10M in tours to monitor desks distribution

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha and his staff were paid over Sh10 million in allowances for touring the country “to monitor the distribution of lockers and desks” in schools.

Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu has said the expenditure incurred by paying day subsistence allowances to staff from Jogoo House could have been avoided if officials from county offices had been assigned the duties.

The desks and lockers project was part of a Covid-19 economic stimulus package that was meant to help in social distancing and promote local artisans whose businesses were ravaged by the pandemic.

Prof Magoha has been visiting different parts of the country to commission and monitor various projects. Sh10,214,400 was spent on the trips.

“The state department has established offices in all the counties and the staff in these offices could have been used with minimal or no costs. This expenditure was therefore against Section 79(2b) of the Public Finance Management Act, 2012, which states that a public officer … should ensure that resources within the officer’s area of responsibility are used in a way that is lawful and authorised and effective, efficient, economical and transparent,” states the report.

With the cost of a chair and locker for secondary schools having been set at Sh3,800, it means that if the funds were used prudently, institutions would have been provided with 2,688 units. Each desk for primary schools was to cost Sh2,500, meaning 4,085 units would have been supplied.

Ms Gathungu has faulted the mobile money transfer method used to pay the artisans, saying, it’s not prescribed by the National Treasury and therefore is in breach of the law.

Although the ministry sent authority to incur expenses totalling Sh1,897,135,000 to all the 47 counties, no funding was effected and, instead, the payments were centralised at the headquarters and effected using the M-Pesa application by Safaricom.

The ministry has also been using M-Pesa to pay contractors who have been engaged in building classrooms to provide more space during the competency-based curriculum (CBC) transition to junior secondary school.

“No explanation was provided for using a private application instead of using Ifmis being the national payment system as per the Public Financial Management Act, 2012. Under the circumstances, the management was therefore in breach of law,” Ms Gathungu observes in her report.

During the project, the ministry supplied 622,357 lockers and chairs to 5,136 public primary schools and 5,254 secondary schools. Every selected primary school received 70 desks while secondary school got 50 lockers and chairs.

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