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Billions lost in fertiliser deals, audit report shows

Mercy Mwai @wangumarci

Fresh details emerged yesterday of how the Ministry of Agriculture inflated the amount of money it used to buy fertiliser by Sh2.5 billion last year.

A new Auditor General’s report shows that despite the government setting aside Sh5.5 billion to buy 168,480 metric tonnes of fertiliser, it spent Sh8.1 billion for 149,775 metric tonnes, which was Sh2.5 billion more yet the tonnage supplied was less.

The Sh8.1 billion include Sh2.4 billion that was spent by the ministry and Sh5.7 billion by the National Cereals and Produce Board.

Sold to farmers

Auditor General Edward Ouko said despite the variance, the ministry has not explained why the cost was reversed and the reasons for its failure to order the full volume of fertiliser. “This procurement exceeded the budget amount of Sh5.5 billion,” he said.

The report questioned the move by NCPB to spend Sh209.3 million more in the procurement from Sh5.5 billion to Sh5.7 billion.

The report tabled in the National Assembly yesterday, revealed that while NCPB had signed an order to procure 115,700 metric tonnes of various fertiliser by the ministry it had already entered into a Sh5.5 billion contract with the supplier, M/S Export Trading but it went ahead to order 103,183 metric tonnes at Sh5.7 billion which was less by 12,516 metric tonnes.

“It is not clear how much of the fertiliser procured by the ministry and NCPB as at June last year was sold to farmers,” the report said in part.

Ouko said the ministry could not provide details of Local Purchase Orders raised by the ministry and NCPB for the purchase of 46,600 metric tonnes worth Sh2.4 billion bought via M/S Trading Company Ltd.

Time of loading

The ministry was supposed to order 932,000 bags of various types of fertiliser of 50 kilogrammes each out of which 40,000 metric tonnes were ordered from M/S Export Trading Company Ltd while the balance of 6,600 metric tonnes were ordered from Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO) firms.

On the distribution to the farm input to various NCPB depots, Ouko raised concerns over the quality of CAN fertiliser delivered by M/S Export Trading Company as it was said to be of poor quality.

He said they are not aware how the quality issues were sorted out as the fertiliser was eventually distributed yet at one time its loading and distribution had been suspended.

In addition, he raised concerns that DAP fertiliser that was distributed had inconsistent weights which ranged between 46kg and 51kg, adding that it was questionable why NCPB hired an independent company to carry out weights and quality survey on fertiliser instead of engaging the Kenya Bureau of Standards.

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