Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Illegal hiring, Payroll fraud haunt 1-year old Siaya County Government

Claims of irregular recruitment and fraud in staff payroll have hit Siaya County Government.

The claims on irregular recruitment were unearthed following correspondences by three county government departments which raised an alarm over anomalies in the recruitment of county staff conducted between May and July, 2023.

The County Public Service Board has however come out to defend claims of illegal hiring, saying it did its work diligently.

On the other hand, an internal audit revealed anomalies in the county payroll in the financial year 2022/2023.

A debit to salaries account to the tune of Sh86, 235, 013 during the years under review is a subject of ongoing discussion between one of our banks and the county government to provide clarity on the transactions

Agunda Ochanda

The audit was commissioned following a County Executive Committee meeting on April 27, 2023, through a Cabinet Sub Committee.

The audit found that there were two fraudulent attempts in the months of December 2022 and March 2023 at introducing fake schedules in the payroll which would have occasioned a loss of over Sh7 million.

County Executive Member for Governance Agunda Ochanda however noted that no money was lost in this scheme, as internal control mechanisms detected it in time.

In the same audit, Mr Ochanda said that there were unsupported payments of over Sh9 million from salaries Control Account, noting that the matter was under probe.

“A debit to salaries account to the tune of Sh86, 235, 013 during the years under review is a subject of ongoing discussion between one of our banks and the county government to provide clarity on the transactions,” he noted.

On promotions in the county government, the report revealed instances of irregular promotions and payment of resultant arrears.

“Corrective measures such as recoveries where appropriate are being undertaken and sanctions meted to perpetrators of this act,” said Ochanda.

Irregular recruitment

The report has however exposed the widespread anomalies in the hiring of county staff, some of it flagged down by various departments.

In separate letters, the departments of Agriculture, Food Security, Irrigation, Livestock and Fisheries, that of Trade, Entreprise and Industrial Development, as well as that of Public Works, Roads, Energy and Transport have all flagged down what they termed as irregularities in the recent recruitments.

In a letter to the County Public Service Board, Acting Chief Officer in the Department of Agriculture, Food Security, Irrigation, Livestock and Fisheries Dr Erick Otieno points out anomalies in the latest recruitment which saw over 60 staffs onboarded in the department.

In his analysis contained in the letter dated July 21, he noted anomalies on job group placement, hiring of unqualified staffs, over recruitment in some areas, as well as under recruitment in other areas.

In the letter, he pointed out that three staffs lacked prerequisite skills in areas where they had been hired.

It was our plea and expectation that the recruitment would favour essential services like meat inspection and disease control to ensure food safety, unfortunately no serious consideration was laid on the services,

Dr Otieno

In addition, he noted that 11 people were recruited in levels blow their skills, while 10 were recruited in levels above their skills.

He also pointed out cases of over recruitment in some cadres, as well as under recruitment in others, which he said did not take into consideration essential services.

“It was our plea and expectation that the recruitment would favour essential services like meat inspection and disease control to ensure food safety, unfortunately no serious consideration was laid on the services,” read the letter in part.

“It has come out in light that an officer who is still pursuing his/her studies has been recruited with only KCSE certificate,” the letter noted.

Siaya County headquarters

Dr Otieno noted that the irregularities in the hiring had already stirred discomfort among old members of staff who have not been promoted for some time.

Cases of over recruitment and under recruitment were also flagged by County Executive Committee Member for Public Works, Roads, Energy and Transport George Nying’iro.

In his letter addressed to the Director, Human Resources on July 11, 2023, Mr Nying’iro noted that despite requesting for 11 new staffs, he got 13.

“It is worth noting that the number received exceeds the advertised by two,” read the letter in part.

It went on; “Out of the 13 positions there is a slight variation in the requests made as illustrated below.”

In the illustration, Nying’iro indicated that he had requested for an assistant Engineer (electrical) under job group K, Assistant Engineer II (Roads/Structural) under job group K, Architectural Assistant under job group J, and three road inspectors under job group J.

Others were Assistant Engineer (Mechanical) Building under job group K, two Quantity Survey Assistants and two Senior Inspectors (Building) under job group J.

He however noted that against his request, he was allocated an extra Senior Assistant (Building), two extra Road Inspectors, an extra Architectural Assistant.

Nying’iro however got no Assistant Engineer (Mechanical) Building, while Quantity Survey Assistants were less by one.

His trade counterpart Grace Agola, in a letter addressed to Governor James Orengo on July 10 also noted cases of over recruitment in her department, a situation she said would affect the departmental budget.

She noted, in the letter, that despite requesting for 11 people, she got nine more staff, which was not supported by the budget.

“Note that the number of recruits needed by the department was specific to 11 people, but the department has noted with concern the appointment letters from the Public Service Board has surpassed the numbers by an extra nine people who were not part of the budget allocation,” the letter read in part.

It went on; “I hope the department will get proper direction on the way forward on the extra personnel whose budget is yet to be created due to already fixed departmental ceiling.”

Forged offer letters

But in its defence, the County Public Service Board says that it did its work diligently, and only recruited qualified personnel as per the requests made by the departments.

Board CEO Wilfred Nyagudi admitted to having received a letter from the Department of Agriculture, and ‘conclusively dealt with it’.

“On issues of placement, we responded to the department with the correct list of all the qualified personnel we recruited,” he said.

He however noted that some people may have forged offer letters and approached the department, an issue he said was being addressed by relevant government agencies.

“We are dealing with a very high number of applicants, and each and every step of the way, we involve relevant authorities,” he noted.

He said in other areas where over-recruitment were reported, the departments relied on lists of those who declined the job offers plus their replacements.

Kevine Omollo
Lake Region Bulletin is your one stop multi-media platform for news from Lake Region Counties of Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay, Migori, Kisii, Nyamira, Vihiga, Kakamega, Busia, Bungoma, Trans Nzoia, Nandi, Kericho and Bomet. Email: komollo@lakeregionbulletin.co.ke omollokevine@gmail.com

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