The auditor-general has put the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) on the spot for spending Sh35 million as night out allowances on staff while on an expedition cruise.
Auditor-General Edward Ouko in a report says the money was paid out as cash imprests to staff on board RV Mtafiti, despite all their expenses having been catered for by the institute.
“Consequently, the accuracy, propriety and completeness of the RV Mtafiti night out expenses of Sh35,294,412 could not be confirmed,” Mr Ouko says in a qualified audit opinion of the books of accounts of KMFRI for the year to June 2017.
The auditor-general’s report does not, however, detail how many staff were paid the cash allowances, or how long they were on board the cruise ship. It does not also disclose where the research was undertaken.
Mr Ouko, however, also raises queries on expenditure of Sh11.9 million that relates to fuel supplied by National Oil Corporation for running the vessel.
He says documents showing how the fuel was utilised were not availed for audit review.
“In the circumstances, the accuracy, completeness and propriety of MV Mtafiti fuel expenditure of Sh11,880,000 could not be confirmed,” says Mr Ouko. James Njiru, the KMFRI director, in his response said the institute received Sh340 million for RV Mtafiti research activities in the year to June 2017.
KMFRI was established in 1979 after the collapse of the East African Community to undertake research in marine and freshwater fisheries, aquaculture, environmental and ecological studies in order to provide scientific data and information for sustainable exploitation, management and conservation of Kenya’s fisheries and aquaculture resources.
Mr Ouko report further put KMFRI’s management on the spot for failing to secure ownership documents for parcels of land in in various parts of the country.
He says the institute owns unsurveyed land located in Baringo, Sangoro and Mtwapa, measuring 2.35 hectares, 0.7 hectares and 13.4 acres respectively that have neither been valued nor included in the property, plant and equipment balance of Sh1,293,392,910 as at June 30, 2017.
“For the two parcels of land in Baringo, the institute holds only allotment letters while three parcels of land in Sangoro measuring 1.8 hectares, the institute did not avail any ownership documents,” Mr Ouko says.
In addition, Mr Ouko says ownership documents for the land in Mtwapa were not availed for audit verification but management reported that the land was grabbed before the transfer from Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) was completed.
The auditor also questions the sale of the Kongowea land parcel measuring 1.998 hectares valued at Sh22.8 million.
He says the land, L.R No.6034/1/MN-Kongowea Mombasa, was sold to Kongowea Market Estate Limited at a price of Sh15 million and the title transferred to the purchaser before the institute received full amount of the sale price.
“In addition, a lawyer who received the money on behalf of the institute on March 26, 2009 did not remit the same to the institute until 2010/11 when he transmitted Sh13,444,923 leaving a balance of Sh1,575,077 and any interest accrued for the period the funds were held,” he says.