Eleven (11) former Members of the Siaya County Assembly (MCAs) did not repay their car loans and mortgages leading to the possible loss of public money worth sh12 million.
This is according to a report on corruption risk assessment into the systems, policies, procedures and practices of the Siaya County Assembly by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).
“(There are) unrecovered car loans and mortgage balances worth sh12 million owned by 11 former MCAs as at February 20, 2023,” said EACC Assistant Director of Prevention Felix Onjoma.
Onjoma, who was presenting the report before the Siaya county executive and legislature in Governor James Orengo’s office on Thursday, explained that the former MCAs have most likely disappeared with public funds.
The EACC established that the County Assembly of Siaya had operationalized the Car and Mortgage scheme for members and staff but the collateral (assets) for the same were not valued to determine whether they adequately covered the loans in the event of recovery.
“Ownership documents of beneficiaries for the loans which had been surrendered as security documents were not charged at respective Land Registries,” reads the report.
The EACC reports that the securities for the loans were not jointly registered in the name of the beneficiaries and the County Assembly of Siaya.
“The County Assembly put an incumbrance in the form of a caution in some title deeds. For example, an application for caution for a mortgage was rejected by the lands registrar in Ruiru as this was stated to be an incorrect inhibition to the registered for purpose of securing the loan,” the report reads.
In that instance, the Siaya County Assembly was advised to change the property but “some of the loan applications were approved before being duly completed by the respective officers”.
The EACC opines in the report that failure to charge securities is a loophole for circumventing the law on payment of stamp duty thereby denying the government statutory duty.
“These are weaknesses that can lead to non-recovery of loans in case of default leading to loss of public funds,” EACC says.
Siaya County Assembly did develop the Siaya County Car Loan and Mortgage Fund Act 2015 as a legal instrument to implementing the scheme.
“The Act created a body corporate with perpetual succession, with a common seal and with power to acquire, own, possess and dispose property, to contract and sue and be sued in its own name”.
The Assembly has been advised by the EACC to ensure implementation of the Car Loan and Mortgage Scheme in line with Section 116(9) of the Public Finance Management Act 2012, and the Salaries and Remuneration Commission’s circulated SRC/ADM/CIR/1/13Vol.III (128) OF December 17, 2014.
The EACC further wants the house speaker and clerk to strictly adhere to the directives of the National Treasury’s circular ZZ/MOF/20/03/86 of September 16, 2015.
Siaya County Assembly Speaker George Okode declined to address himself to the issue when the press asked him to do so after a meeting with the EACC team.
Speaker Okode has been at the helm of the Siaya County Assembly leadership since the advent of devolution in 2013.
“It is their (EACC) report. I do not want to speak about it,” Okode said.
The Assembly was also faulted by the integrity commission for unnecessarily conducting numerous meetings outside the precincts of the County Assembly leading to wastage of public funds.
“For example, the Committee on General Oversight held 34 meetings between November 4, 2022 and January 21, 2023 at various hotels in Kisumu County,” the report continues to read.
Some members of the Assembly who do not attend meetings have had their names in the attendance records resulting into payment of sitting allowances to un-derserving members.
The corruption risk assessment report revealed that failure by the Assembly to develop Customer Service Delivery Charter at service delivery points like Ward offices causes possible denial of citizens of accurate information.
As such, the EACC says, it is a loophole for extortion, bribery and impersonation in service delivery.
The Assembly, according to the EACC, has no Complaints Handling Committee and that the complaints reporting channels such as complaints register, boxes and email have never been operationalized despite there being a Complaints Management Network action plan of June 2022.
On the public participation front, the EACC asserts that the Siaya County Assembly has no policey, regulations and citizen participation charter to guide implementation of the Public Participation and Petitions Act.
“Failure to entrench public participation in the County Assembly activities lead to non-involvement and lack of ownership by the citizens; contrary to the Constitution of Kenya and the County Governments Act 2012,” the report reads.
The Siaya County Government’s executive and the Assembly has been marked by the EACC for a seemingly close collaboration, thus a beating to either implementation or oversight roles.
For instance, the report indicates that on May 5, 2022, the some MCAs and staff of the Assembly attended wildlife, tourism, health, water and agriculture departmental performance review meetings in Kisumu where about sh14 million was spent.
“The loophole could lead to compromise on oversight mandate …and double payment of allowances resulting into loss of public funds,” said EACC Commissioner John Ogallo.