MPs summon Sicily Kariuki over doubtful spending at Youth Affairs ministry - Beaking Kenya News

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Wednesday, 17 February 2021

MPs summon Sicily Kariuki over doubtful spending at Youth Affairs ministry

 

A parliamentary committee has summoned Water and Sanitation Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki over a litany of questionable expenditures during her time at the helm of the Public Service and Youth Affairs docket.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the National Assembly wants Ms Kariuki to explain the expenditures that have been flagged by the office of the Auditor-General.

The members of PAC, which is chaired by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi, while examining the report of the Auditor-General on the accounts of the Public Service ministry for the 2017/18 financial year, were shocked by the bizarre spending.

Private function

This came after it emerged that Ms Kariuki — then Public Service Cabinet secretary — allegedly diverted a chopper hired by the National Youth Service (NYS), a department under the ministry, to fly staff members at a cost of Sh7.7 million, to take her to Windsor hotel for a private function.

The committee also heard that the ministry spent Sh2.3 million to hire mobile toilets for a one day event that were used during a meeting of the sacco members that Ms Kariuki was presiding over at the Gilgil NYS College.

“This matter of hiring toilets as we can clearly see is a litany of irregularities, illegalities and impunity by the then CS yet this was her private meeting,” Mr Wandayi said while telling Public Service and Youth Affairs Principal Secretary Mary Kimonye to let Ms Kariuki carry her own cross.

“With this, it goes down without saying that Sicily Kariuki who was responsible for the hiring of the toilets is the same CS who used the helicopter for a detour to Windsor hotel,” said Mr Wandayi adding, “we will be calling her so that we can deal with her.”

The use of the helicopter emerged after the audit report revealed that the invoice billed and paid for included an invoice for Windsor as part of the itinerary covered which was not in the approved itinerary that was requisitioned and approved by the accounting officer.

Declined to name Kariuki

Mr Wandayi mentioned Ms Kariuki’s name after Ms Kimonye and NYS Director-General Matilda Sakwa, who were appearing before the committee Tuesday afternoon, declined to name Ms Kariuki as the CS who had used the helicopter services. 

But the unrelenting committee would go on to push PS Kimonye into admitting that Ms Kariuki was the CS in charge at the time.

Ms Kimonye was warned that failure to do so was a recipe for her being declared a hostile witness.

“Remember if you continue to be protective to her, this can go down on you very badly,” Mr Wandayi read the riot act as Garissa Township MP Aden Duale also joined in.

Mr Duale had demanded that Ms Kimonye reveals the name of the CS who boarded the helicopter and the owner of the aircraft.

“You cannot hide the details from us, if we want to know who this person is we will know; we will just call the industry regulator to get the manifest. We can also get this information from the intelligence person who was present when the CS boarded the helicopter,” Mr Duale said.

Funyula MP Wilberforce Oundo also took issue with Ms Kimonye’s failure to reveal the name of the person who boarded the helicopter.

Nameless person

“You cannot tell me for all these years, madam PS, that you have never been bothered to know who this nameless person who used the helicopter is. If you continue like this the committee will cite you as a hostile witness,” said Mr Oundo.

It is against this background that Kimonye told the committee “there was a senior officer (unnamed) coming from a field activity to an official function at Windsor.”

But after the committee threatened to declare her a hostile witness, she caved in.

“Yes, I will go with that, Mr Chairman, pending my confirmation on this. Please allow me to go back and get the details before I respond to you.”                            

Earlier Ms Sakwa, without mentioning names, had told the committee that it was a CS who used the helicopter but declined to give further details on the matter after Ms Kimonye warned her not to drop people’s names without being sure whether the information she was sharing was factual.

Toilets

On the hiring of the toilets, Ms Kimonye and Ms Sakwa were at pains to explain to the MPs how the tender was authorised yet this expenditure was not budgeted for, contrary to the Public Finance Management (PFM) Act.

Mr Wandayi and Mr Oudo had particularly demanded to know how the CS could authorise Sh2.3 million to be spent to hire toilets without following due process.

But in her response, Ms Sakwa defended the tender, even as she admitted there were irregularities.

“It is correct that the account charged for the expenditure was not the right one. The station did not have funds in the right account by the time of procuring the service. Reallocation could not be sought because of the time factor. This failure is attributable to the time factor and is regretted,” Ms Sakwa said.


COURTESY OF THE DAILY NATION  

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