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Economy

Waiguru’s ministry buys ball pens at Sh8,700 each

Devolution and Planning secretary Anne Waiguru. PHOTO | FILE
Devolution and Planning secretary Anne Waiguru. PHOTO | FILE 

Planning secretary Anne Waiguru used millions of shillings in public funds to feather her nest at Harambee House shortly after she was appointed to the Cabinet, fresh documents tabled in Parliament show. 

Ms Waiguru’s ministry bought goods and services at inflated prices during her first year in office even as President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, moved to cut wastage in government with austerity measures.

The ministry set a new record in price inflation with the purchase of 20 ball point pens for the Huduma Kenya secretariat at a cost of Sh174,000 — translating to Sh8,700 per pen.

Planning PS Peter Mangiti could not explain whether the ball point pens were in 20 boxes or single pens when questioned by MPs.

“I didn’t carry the specifications and the details of these items, but we can provide a detailed response” he said.

Documents before Parliament placed the quantity of the pens at 20.

PAC chairman Nicholas Gumbo directed that Ms Waiguru, Devolution PS Mwanamaka Mabruki and Mr Mangiti appear Wednesday afternoon without fail, adding that some audit queries touch on the minister.

The documents, which Mr Mangiti presented to Parliament on Tuesday, indicate that Ms Waiguru ordered a complete overhaul of her Harambee House office – complete with new fittings that included a Sh1.8 million touchscreen television and a state-of-the-art boardroom that cost taxpayers millions of shillings.

Ms Waiguru took over the expanded docket that comprised ministries of Local Government, Planning, Public Service, Regional Development, Northern Kenya and Arid Lands, Nairobi Metropolitan and Special Projects.

Most of the ministries had well-refurbished ministerial offices, having been created a few years earlier with the coming to power of the Grand Coalition government.

The National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) heard that the Directorate of Public Service Management went on a spending spree in procuring goods and services for Ms Waiguru’s new office, Huduma Centres and other offices within the ministry in the early days of the Jubilee administration.

In total, the Directorate of Public Service Management and the Huduma Centre secretariat spent Sh1.27 billion to procure goods and services for the minister, Huduma centres and construction of bus parks in the two months that remained of the 2013/14 financial year when new government assumed power.

The ministry procured 32 boardroom chairs (medium black, swivel with arms, tilt and lock) for Ms Waiguru’s office at Sh508,000, according to the documents tabled in Parliament.

The minister’s office was also fitted with an executive boardroom table measuring 9 by 5.1m at a cost of Sh170,000, an executive credenza worth Sh39,000 and a high back executive orthopaedic mesh chair worth Sh49,000.

The ministry’s asset register for 2013/14 financial year shows Ms Waiguru’s department procured goods at prices that were way above the market range.

For instance, the documents show that the ministry acquired Adobe In-design CS6 software at a cost of Sh1.9 million.

Corel Draw 13 software for the Huduma Kenya secretariat cost the taxpayers a whopping Sh3.44 million.

Through the Directorate of Public Service Management, Ms Waiguru’s ministry procured 18 tailor-made clear male and female condom dispensers at a cost of Sh450,000.

The documents also indicate that the directorate procured a Yamaha Piano “for office use” at a cost of Sh235,900 in December 2013.

The list of items bought at extremely inflated prices includes 100 units of 4 Giga Bites (GB) flash disks for Huduma Kenya secretariat at Sh242,500 in November 2013 – meaning each of the 4GB flash disks cost the taxpayer Sh2,425 compared to a market price of less than Sh1,000.

Mr Gumbo adjourned the committee’s meeting after Balambala MP Abdikadir Aden drew his attention to the list of assets the ministry presented through a letter signed by Mr Mangiti on August 15, 2015.

Mr Mangiti promptly apologised to the committee for what he said was a mix-up of items in “the ministry’s asset register” and asked to withdraw the same.

The PS had appeared before the PAC to respond to the ministry’s spending of Sh8.3 billion in the acquisition of non-financial assets, whose register was not provided for audit verification.

The auditor- general had queried the expenditure, noting that the asset register and supporting payment vouchers were not provided for scrutiny.

“There are things like TV screens purchased at a cost of Sh1.7 million, photocopier at Sh1.4 million, desktop computers at Sh1.2 million and hoovers at Sh250,000. How different is this hoover from the Sh15,000 one sold at Uchumi Supermarkets,” Mr Abdikadir asked, adding that there was need to scrutinise the list further.

Mr Aden termed as suspect the renovation and expansion of car parks such as the Mawingu Lorry Park at a cost of between Sh97 million and Sh280 million even as he sought to know whether renovated bus parks are ministry assets.

The MPs also raised issues with the partitioning of Barclays Plaza at Sh12 million, printing of the NMEs communication strategy documents at Sh2.5 million, storm water drainage (Sh100 million) and private virtual desktop infrastructure (Sh1.6 million).

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