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PIC probes higher learning institutions for financial malpractices

The National Assembly Public Investments Committee (PIC) on Governance and Education has launched a probe into institutions of higher learning to unearth financial malpractices pointed out by the Auditor General.

The probe, which targets public Universities, Technical Vocational Education Training (TVET) institutions, and Technical Training institutes, comes at a time when the institutions are struggling with huge pending bills.

Committee Chairman Jack Wamboka said the probe, which is based on the auditor general’s reports, has been backdated to the 2019–2020 financial year to get to the bottom of the issues raised in the reports.

Speaking during a sitting in Kisumu, Wamboka, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bumula constituency, said the investigations so far have unearthed gross financial malpractices, adding that the committee will not leave any stone unturned to ensure that public funds allocated to public institutions are properly utilised.

The issues raised in the three audit reports, he added, point to mismanagement of public resources, laxity, and incompetence of accounting officers, adding that the committee would go after the officers involved to recover lost funds.

“We are here to protect the public good and ensure that there is value for money for every shilling sent to these public institutions,” he said.

Most of the institutions, he said, had never been audited by the PIC, explaining the runaway corruption and gross financial mismanagement.

This, he said, was because the PIC in the last parliament was a giant committee with over 900 institutions to oversee.

“In this parliament, the PIC has been split into three, and this will make sure that we reach all these institutions, which for many years have gone unchecked,” he said.

On Monday, accounting officers for Kisumu National Polytechnic, Seme Technical and Vocational College, Ugenya Technical and Vocational College, and Bondo Technical and Vocational College appeared before the committee.

The committee, which is sitting in Kisumu until Friday, August 18, 2023, is set to probe reports on Maseno University, Kisii University, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology, and Tom Mboya University, amongst other institutions of higher learning.

Wamboka, who was flanked by MPs Mangale Chiforomodo (Lunga Lunga), Samuel Mwenje (Embakasi West), and Dan Kariitho (Igembe Central), said after the sittings, the committee shall retreat to prepare a report and cite accounting officers found to have mismanaged public resources.

“So far, we have tabled two reports. Two others are ready, and we are working on the fourth. The time to act is now. If we don’t take action against these officers, then nothing will change,” he said.

Based on the number of years under review, Wamboka said some of the managers could have exited the institutions, adding that the committee would make recommendations to parliament to have them held to account.

“Once we complete the investigations, the committee will prepare and table a report in parliament. Once it is debated and passed, the relevant government agencies will take up the matter,” he said.

By Chris Mahandara

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