NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 24 – The government has disbursed Sh1.7 billion for the Free Primary Education (FPE) kitty allaying fears of a possible interruption following withdrawal of major donor funding.
Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta said on Thursday that the balance of Sh3.2 billion for this financial year would be cleared by June next year.
Sh1 billion would be paid out by January 2010 and the remaining Sh2.2 billion would be cleared between February and June of the same year.
“Parents can expect that their children can report to school in the beginning of the year because the programme is still on track,” Mr Kenyatta said.
More than Sh100 million meant for FPE was believed to have been stolen or diverted to other use by senior Ministry of Education officials leading to cancellation of support from the UK government.
“I want to assure Kenyans that it was the government of Kenya that initiated the audit, brought this issue to the attention both of Kenyans and the International community and that since September we have been working to ensure that any funds that have been misappropriated are recovered,” the DPM said.
Mr Kenyatta said a validation report from the Ministry of Education had recommended the surcharging of five people, lift suspension of five others, cleared one officer who did not participate and ordered further investigation of 15 cases.
“The amounts confirmed to have been misappropriated will then be considered ineligible and refunded by the government of Kenya to the project account while steps will be taken to recover the same from the individual officers who may be implicated,” he said.
Mr Kenyatta said Treasury would be conducting a follow up forensic audit for the purpose of getting assurance that the recommendations to strengthen public financial management were working as intended.
“Let me assure you that treasury will do everything possible to ensure that the experiences and lessons learnt during the fiduciary audit will assist in strengthening our public financial management reform agenda,” he said.
Education Permanent Secretary Karega Mutahi has previously exonerated himself from blame and said he would not resign over the misappropriation of the funds.
He had claimed that the scandal was a fabrication of the media.