Beyond The Hills
Author: Evans Mutethia
Newsletter: Dandora Daily
Governance has always been on the tip of a countries ability to prevail and has been seen as a founding structure for its mobility and aptitude. That being said, the impartiality governance accords to the people from all settlements and backgrounds are central to the outcome for that particular area.
Beyond the shores of Nyanza and adjacent to the meadows of Trans Nzoia stands firm Bungoma County, an above average expanse that is scaling to new heights day to day and one that’s surely proving to pull its weight in being one standout county in the country. Through their systems of governance; both the positives and negatives have been exposed through audit reports, satisfaction of its inhabitants and county officials. Regardless of that, throughout the years they have been raising concerns and strong rational arguments about the transparency and reliability of governance in the Western region, Bungoma being a fine example to dig from with political advantage taking the center of it all. Most of them (politicians) tend to propel and spread promises which; at the end of their road are barely upheld.
Aforementioned, despite the allure by the scheming declarations of the people in power, the county normally has set goals and visions to achieve within a certain time frame and which heavily depends on the governance, not forgetting transparency and accountability of funds and resources at their disposal. Amassing from school bursaries to Cumulative Distribution Function (CDF) a lot of funds are poured into the region’s well to keep alive the promise of development and sustainably for the people’s future success and satisfaction.
The needs of the county and its public to be met are essential in making the path of a well-integrated community. From basic, to secondary and tertiary requirements the county has plans that befit both them and the public.
According to the Audit report for the financial year that ended 30th June 2017 and which was done in lines abiding by the Constitution of Kenya and section 35 of the Public Audit Act 2015. The audit firm clearly stated that nothing came to their attention where the use of public money was not applied lawfully and effectively. From the office of the clerk of the county assembly, the county assembly received an exchequer of Kshs 926,405,023 which represents the 100% of funds that were realized and fully ensued that the total expenditure of the finical year was Kshs 925,781,719 while Kshs 898,392,394 was the recurrent expenditure while Kshs 87,389,324 was emphasized on development expenditure. Through basis of qualified opinion the audit noticed that there were inaccuracies in the financial statements and this was inclusive of the compensation of employees which was stated to be an expenditure of Kshs 281,247,766 reported in the receipts and payments offer that differs with the gross salary of Kshs 224,382,323 discovered in the Integral Payroll and Personal Database which resulted into a unreconciled Kshs 56, 865,443 which left the audit claiming that the accuracy and completeness of the financial statements could not be ascertained.
In addition to the above, in the acquisition of assets; the construction of the office block, an amount totaling to 43.3 million was paid to a local contractor regardless of the originally stipulated amount that was 87.6 million after which the construction continued for 18 months. However, a physical verification done during the end of that year (November 2017) showed that the contractor had completed the sub structure with only columns partially erected. Apart from that no work was going on as the contractor had abandoned the area for a period leading to almost 5 months. Due to that the members of the assembly have been forced to undertake their due duties under a non-conducive environment. In matters partaking with the use of goods and services under which medical insurance is covered, anomalies were noticed; that is: a medical policy was not provided for audit scrutiny and also that only one bidder qualified for the financial evaluations hence they weren’t any competitive bids. Once, they was a computer maintenance whereby the would have saved a total of in excess of 800,000Kshs if instead of hiring they would have just used their staff.
Throught the key audit matters which in a nutshell mean the key matters which in their pfofessional judgements are, the most significant matters in the audit financil statements. He determined that they were no key matters in the audit that the county assembly was comprised in.The people who are in charge of the governance of their public also can cause either the prosperity or plunder of the region. For example MCA’s (Members of the County Assembly) have outsatnding car loans and mortgage fund that was relayed to them. Followig the excess of upto 88 million kenyan shillings which have yet to be refunded, begs you to ask the question of, “how will they payback the money owed?” This also can lead to consistent and irregular borrowings from the members.
Also, through the audit report for the financial year, it has been noted that a lot pf pending bills have caused backtrack of the service delivery in the service areas that they owe money too. Since as the saying goes, “you can not ite off the hand that feeds you.” This temds to make the relationships between producer and consumer more complicated than expected and can lead the people to assume that the war on graft is nothing but a ruse. With the audit it is easier to gauge the accountability of the County Assembly of Bungoma since they is a detailed report to confirm any sort of allegations and is also made available to the public through online platfroms fro those who are dgital literate. But also, through the audit report a lot of eyebrows and question marks are raised since you don’t know where the pending bills, unaccounted for money, borrowed and mismanaged funds have gone too. Maybe the audit is a safe place to start in terms of transparency towards the public of Bungoma but what is entirely questionable without shadow of doubt is the fact that the money is barely accounted for and for those who maybe involved they can not be questioned since they have an added advantage over the other.
In regards to governance the systems used for governance are for lack of a better definition, chronological. They are some that are dependent on the other to function while others are wholly able and adaptable to be independent. For example, the creation of the county government systems were are part of the devolved governments structure, hence, they have been given total power over the regions they administer. This being a known fact; like in work they are people who report to others and they are others who get reported to; this means that as simple as it can loook its more complicated to bring out cases about the public and actually win since at the end “everyone works for someone.” Therefore, with the more intricate and close to home systems of governance it was expected that they would be easier access for the people to reach their leaders and ask for help whre need be, but unfortunately all they now get is a gust of wind to their cheeks.
With the county intergrated plans that were laid by the government that will take up two phases which were: one between 2013-2017 and 2018-2022 it was a clear and very coherent project that would, beyond resonable doubt put in place projects that will help the county’s inhabitants. With certain projects like the decongesting of the town’s Central Business District and create good projects that will keep the youth busy and enable them to earn stable income throughout the years, it has been quite difficult to see continued growth exponentially throughout the county.
Finally, the transparency and accountability in the county is just but a piece that actually truly mirrors the ongoing situation in the area. But at least more than half of the largely stated and promised projects are coming to birth towards the near end of the ten year political tenure for the leaders of the region. Audit reports and compilations by the firms have helped in acting as a minor opposing government since it keeps members of the county’s assembly on attention and hot on their heels. Plus the aura of the public also puts into serious contention the acts of their leaders, their systems of governance and how they work. The public too, keep themselves alert and also learn about the things that they do not know so as to question the things that their governments are doing amd if they are an added advantage or an arrogant disadvantage. With this in mind its hard for the system to manipulate things to their side knowing that they’ll most probably be revealed. With that said simple things like the actualization of county projects, satisfaction of the people’s needs amd audit reports and also thoughts by the public as a whole has definitely aided in the transparency and accountability of the county beyond the hills.