NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 27 – The ministry of education says an audit into the loss of Sh1.3 billion text books scandal is nearly complete.
Permanent Secretary Karega Mutahi said that the initial report had been finalised on how 5.8 million Textbooks donated or bought for Free Primary Education between 2003 and 2009 had disappeared.
“We have got a draft report. Today there is a team already sitting down now to look at the questions raised and we hope that as soon as they have covered the necessary groundwork, they will then invite the people whose accounts have been asked and then they will answer the questions,” he said.
“Once they are answered, the auditors will do a final report,” he added.
The Education PS however pointed out that no one has yet been accused over the irregularity.
“Auditors always have questions and those questions do not constitute a thief. They only say that that these ones are more certified people who can explain this irregularity,” the Permanent Secretary said.
“Once they are explained, they either become an issue or a non-issue.”
The UK Department for International Development (DfID) had said that although it has not suspended funding for the textbook programme, the audit would proceed on how the funds were spent.
The review team, a joint effort by the UK and Kenya National Audit Offices, has made recommendations to strengthen the programme and ensure robust controls to reduce losses.
DfID however clarified that so far, preliminary reports on the textbook programme was impressive. The Ministry asked schools to prepare an inventory of all textbooks supplied under FPE since 2003.
Reports have revealed that schools managers often conspire with suppliers to inflate cost of books, sold by firms in which they have interests.
The PS admitted the losses but denied they occurred due to corruption. He said the DfID report does not accuse ministry officials and head teachers of theft claims.
"Last year, we lost hundreds and thousands of books during post-election violence," the PS said.
Textbooks worth Sh182, 000 were lost during the violent eviction of squatters in Marakwet East District early this year. The PS claimed that losses through wear and tear are natural for textbooks after three years.
The DfID maintained it has zero tolerance for the misuse of the UK taxpayers’ money in Kenya and globally.
It said it fully welcomes the Ministry of Finance’s own audit, saying it will help in the fight against corruption.