Stipends for the poor delayed over fraud

Labour, Social Security and Services secretary Kazungu Kambi. Photo/FILE
Labour, Social Security and Services secretary Kazungu Kambi. Photo/FILE  Nation Media Group

A Sh8.9 billion cash transfer programme targeting vulnerable children and senior citizens will be delayed further after the government admitted difficulty in picking beneficiaries.

Labour, Social Security and Services secretary Kazungu Kambi said a foolproof method of identifying would-be beneficiaries and mode of transfers was yet to be found.

“We have noted serious anomalies in the existing structures. There will be a meeting between the ministry, MPs and governors to discuss how to roll out the cash transfer programmes,” Mr Kambi told the Health and Social Welfare committee of Parliament.

He said the stipend was currently beset by fraudulent payments to non-existent or dead people abetted by administrators, village elders and social welfare officers.

Mr Kambi said his office had received numerous complaints about beneficiaries being paid half the amount, with the rest being retained by chiefs.

“They are paid Sh1,000 and the chiefs pocket the other. We must find ways to seal these loopholes,” Mr Kambi said.

Committee chairman David Were said the entire scheme should be rethought.

“This cash transfer system is mired in corruption and inefficiencies. There is no criteria at all governing identification of beneficiaries” Mr Were said giving the example of his Matungu Constituency.

Finance secretary Henry Rotich allocated Sh6.6 billion for orphans and elderly persons. Donors have also committed Sh2.26 billion to the programme.

Mr Kambi said social welfare officers selected the 153, 000 households that benefited from the programme. He said elected representatives would develop the selection criteria and help identify beneficiaries, ensuring wider distribution across Kenya.

Tarbaj MP Mohammed Elmi said modern technology should be used to transfer cash to the intended beneficiaries.

“With modern technology where we have mobile money transfer, ATM and cash vouchers, why is the ministry using chiefs?” he posed.

Acting assistant director for children services Mary Mbuga said Sh4.4 billion was disbursed to orphans and vulnerable children in the last financial year in 153, 000 households.

She said the 2009 Census data and the 2006 Integrated Household Survey was used to identify beneficiaries in the 210 constituencies She said more money was needed to cover the 290 constituencies.

Mr Kambi said modern cash transfer systems would be identified when the programme is rolled out.