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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Impropriety claims rock CAK after senior directors sue authority

Soon after senior directors at the Communications Authority of Kenya went to the Industrial Court last week to block a decision by the board chairman Ben Gituku to declare their positions vacant, there has since emerged glaring irregularities at the state authority with claims that millions of shillings have been squandered by the board in irregular allowances since 2011.
In a memorandum to the Inspector General of State Corporations, Auditor General, director Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission  Mumo Matemu and Deputy President William Ruto, the memo states:
“This is to bring to your attention the high rate of spending by the board of the above mentioned organisation, which if allowed to continue, is likely to be very huge amount by the end of the financial year”.
Authored by “patriotic and concerned Kenyans”, the revelation comes hot on the heels of the court tussle pitting the board and senior directors who were relegated to the positions of chief managers in what is viewed as a scheme by the board to strip them of their powerful positions after the recent changes that saw the commission change its status to an authority.
It is alleged that by the end of November last year, a staggering sum of Sh29,000,000 million, and representing 54pc of the annual allocation which had been consumed through dubious allowances. “It is clear that the bulk of expenses is in sitting allowances and the reason for this is the number of meeting being held, several retreats held almost on a monthly basis, insisting that they be paid sitting allowances even on day of travel on official duties as opposed to being paid only for the days of business,” they claimed.
For instance, the board is accused of spending Sh12,420,000 in sitting allowance, Sh540,859 on monthly fees, Sh2,209,77 on telephone allowance, Sh5,660,951 on travelling allowance, Sh429,780 on welfare and Sh8,628,530 totaling to Sh29,889,897  by November last year alone.  In 2012/13, the board spent Sh32,350,382, Sh29,913,931 in 2011/12 and Sh30,256,318 in 2010/11 which continue to raise eyebrows.
The board has been accused of meeting almost every day of the week doing some work that essentially should be done by the management like job description, raising eyebrows of the brewing and looming confrontation with the employees and the senior directors.
“The validity of some of their meetings is questionable and doubtful whether it should attract sitting allowances since some mandatory steps are not observed  and also attendance and advice of management is not sought,” the memorandum further.
“Notable also is telephone expense, contrary to the circular on terms and conditions of the board where only the chairman of the board is entitled to telephone allowance of Sh7,000, the entire board members receive a monthly telephone allowance of Sh28,572 and advice of management is not sought,” the letter laments, and adds that the proposed hefty sitting and retainer allowances, if approved, will inflate their expenses, hence squeezing the authority’s financial base.
 The memorandum further states that whereas the management should advise the board on the authority’s operations, these roles seem to have been swapped. “Events not planned and budgeted for are pushed to the management and a lot of pressure exerted for things to be done and “as if their own consumption is not enough, they bring people from other organisations to be sponsored  by the authority on travel mission,” they lament.
Sources said CAK operates imprest travel system and pays allowances into their bank account. But interesting, it claimed that the beneficiaries are slow in surrendering the imprests which they said reflected negatively on the authority’s leadership as enshrined in Chapter Six on integrity and leadership.
“While outstanding imprests are keenly followed, their reaction when asked for accounting documents is so bad that responsible staff fear to approach. They insist on payment on the day of meeting, allowances are processed and posted into their bank accounts before the day of the meeting and if one does not attend a meeting, no refund is made,” a source said.