Editorials

Investigate fresh tender anomalies at the NYS

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Auditor General Nancy Gathungu. PHOTO | LUCY WANJIRU | NMG

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Summary

  • A new audit that has flagged irregularities in multi-million shilling tenders points to a scandal brewing at the National Youth Service (NYS).
  • If the government does not move fast to strengthen the procurement regulations at the State agency and rid it of officials with an obvious conflict of interest, taxpayers may lose billions of shillings to corrupt deals.

A new audit that has flagged irregularities in multi-million shilling tenders points to a scandal brewing at the National Youth Service (NYS).

If the government does not move fast to strengthen the procurement regulations at the State agency and rid it of officials with an obvious conflict of interest, taxpayers may lose billions of shillings to corrupt deals.

A review of contracts has found anomalies, including NYS rejecting discounts by suppliers, picking the most-expensive suppliers from the list of bidders, paying for goods without ascertaining delivery, and ordering for goods without approval.

It is not the first time that Kenyans have lost money through NYS. The government should have learned from the previous cases of impropriety and done a proper clean-up.

The Auditor-General has raised concerns over the purchase of woollen blankets, digital camouflage material, high-ankle military boots, canned beef, pineapples, and uniform materials. For instance, a supplier received Sh31.73 million for the supply of canned beef and pineapples one month before approval of the tender. This is contrary to the Public Finance Management (National Government) Regulations, 2015, and shows that the agency has a long way to go in fighting fraud.

In yet another case of irregular spending, a supplier was paid Sh20.16 million for uniform materials, days before they were delivered. The NYS also paid Sh49.5 million prematurely for an order of olive-green ribbed jerseys and at an inflated cost.

Kenya's development is held back by high corruption levels that mostly start at procurement departments.

The government had implemented modest reforms at the NYS, but these seem not to have stopped misuse and theft of public money. Corrupt officials keep ignoring the rules for awarding tenders, collude to fix prices, feed and maintain cartels, and other practices that make the government receive no value for money.

The auditing and accountability of expenditure at the NYS should not stop at reporting of irregular tenders. If Kenya is to end procurement corruption, let the culprits face harsh fines or jail terms, even for the smallest of anomalies or we risk running into bigger scandals.