Kenya’s auditor general has warned that the basic function of the state is under threat by rampant and coordinated corruption.
The dire prediction by Edward Ouko follows a series of scandals, the most recent involving allegations against the health ministry, which was missing 2.7 billion Kenyan shillings (US$27 million) from the 2015-2016 financial year.
Ouko’s audit findings indicate civil servants and other officials have been stealing billions of Kenyan shillings annually in a coordinated fashion.
Speaking to Reuters, the auditor general said the level of graft was shocking, adding: “If we don’t watch out, it will engulf us.”
The hard-hitting former auditor at the African Development Bank said he was frustrated that recommendations he made in 2014 to reform the procurement of contracts were ignored by the Kenyan Parliament.
“It makes me angry that the weaknesses which we had revealed about IFMIS’ potential abuses were not acted upon,” Ouko said, using the acronym for the government’s payments system, the Integrated Financial Management Information System.
In November 2016 an audit report revealed negligence on basic system security procedures and lack of data safeguards, making the system easy to manipulate by fraudsters seeking to steal from the public purse.
During the interview, the auditor made reference to nine billion shillings unaccounted for by the National Youth Service and the dozens of officials held in custody on corruption charges.
Ouko recalled that he produced a report for Parliament on the same agency in 2015, which revealed how 1.6 billion shillings “had gone out of the window”.
The auditor said he named the officials and companies who he claims colluded together to create phoney contracts and faulty payment systems.
“My report was completely ignored”, he said.
A report of a special audit involving the Ministry of Health was sent to the Kenyan Parliament this week.
This revealed that Sh2.7 billion was unaccounted for during the 2015/2016 financial year. The money had been earmarked for the purchase of portable container clinics for free maternity, family planning and managed equipment.
In a bid to root out corruption the government announced recently that procurement and accounting chiefs would have to take lie-detector tests.
President Uhuru Kenyatta said: “All heads of procurement and accounts in government ministries, departments and agencies and parastatals will undergo fresh vetting including polygraph testing to determine their integrity and suitability.”