Cabinet now remedies unit to fight graft at State agency

Mercy Mwai and PSCU @wangumarci

Cabinet has sanctioned the formation of a council to oversee the operations of the National Youth Service (NYS) to rein in cases of corrupt dealings.

In a bill, currently undergoing public participation, the Cabinet seeks to create a 12-member board to directly oversight the NYS director general.

It will convert the youth training agency into a parastatal with a board to oversee the management headed by a chief executive officer.

Since its establishment, NYS has been operating like a paramilitary training agency with only the director general calling the shots which exposed it to control by bureaucrats and politicians. The bill will also provide a linkage between the service and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four agenda.

Creation of the NYS council is part of the drastic reforms aimed at streamlining operations of the service and seal graft loopholes that have been used to plunder public funds.

Yesterday, Public Service, Youth and Gender Cabinet secretary Margaret Kobia said the government would not tolerate loss of taxpayers’ money at NYS.

She exuded confidence that the bill would eliminate corruption if passed by Parliament.Kobia said the proposed law will go a long way in creating a strong institution with clear internal control structures among them an auditor to track usage of its resources.

She said part of the proposal include the creation of a council within the NYS to provide  necessary governance to steer the service forward.

“To make a stronger NYS that will deliver on its mandate as well as ensure improved governance structure in terms of its finances,” she said.

Kobia added that the loss of money at the institution will never happen again as the ministry is currently working with a local audit firm-PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) on procurement at the service to ensure regulations are complied with.

The CS said the passage of the bill would give a  clear segregation of duties at the service with the council taking charge of supervision from the PS as the ministry deals with general formulation of policies.

The image of the NYS has been muddied courtesy of a litany of questionable dealings involving huge public funds.

 “You know, corruption has been rampant at the facility because only the PS is supposed to oversight the DG. That is why whenever there has been a scandal; the PS and the DG have always been suspended. In the new structure, the ministry will have no role. The council will do the job.”

Her sentiments comes at a time when the service is set to undergo a restructuring including sealing all the loopholes of corruption and other wastage in the management of public funds through establishment of clear reforms in procurement and finance.

The bill states that the council shall consist of a non-executive chairperson appointed by the President, the Principal Secretary for the Service, PS in charge of Treasury, Interior PS, Attorney General, and the Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces.

Other than providing oversight on the DG, the council will be in charge of policy formulation. Currently, the Principal Secretary in the ministry oversights the NYS DG.

Early this year, Youth PS Lilian Mbogo and NYS director general Richard Ndubai were charged in court over the loss of Sh8 billion.

The annual allocation to the NYS has always exceeded that of the ministry.

In 2018, the service was allocated Sh23 billion to spend on programmes of its choice.


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