Mercy Mwai @wangumarci
A damning report by the Auditor General has unearthed details of irregular, erroneous and possibly cooked up pay-outs worth billions of shillings made at the Pensions department to undeserving claimants through forgery, system error and connivance by rogue staff at the expense of genuine pensioners.
Genuine claimants are often subjected to long and painful waits — with some even dying before their dues are processed — in a system that apparently allows irregular listing of pensioners, payment to some who are yet to retire and use of wrong personal identification numbers.
A report tabled yesterday in the National Assembly by Auditor General Edward Ouko, reveals how Sh67.8 billion was irregularly paid to pensioners because of anomalies in the Pensions Management Information Systems (PMIS) used by the department to process and pay pensions.
Ouko warns that unless the system errors are immediately addressed, the taxpayer could lose another Sh86.8 billion in dues earmarked to be paid to 146,027 claimants. Ouko compiled the report after sampling 10 ministries and government departments.
He says the integrity test on the PMIS that contained 306,712 records of pensioners revealed that the system failed short of characteristics of a good infrastructure because in some instances, it allowed irregular enrollment of pensioners, payment of lump sum money before the officers’ dates of exit and irregular identification numbers.
Further he observed that the PMIS has not offered foolproof support in the processing and payment of the pensions and gratuities, which he blamed on why the system allowed irregular entries and duplication in the information offered and processed.
Ten sampled ministries and departments included the Judiciary, the ministries of Health, Foreign Affairs, National Treasury, Water, Transport as well as the departments of Prison, Social Protection, Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and Investments.
“The anomalies are evidence that the pension management information systems lacks integrity and puts to risk an amount of Sh67.8billion,” the report reads in part. Out of this amount paid out, 962 claimants were paid Sh1.6b long before the end of their service exit date yet they were still on the payroll and drawing salaries.
Another 221, 590 claimants with irregular and no tax pins were paid Sh44 billion as 7,166 claimants with irregular IDs were paid an undisclosed sum. The report further indicates that 232 claimants with shared IDs received Sh152. 8million.
The irregular IDs, Ouko said, had either less than three or more than nine characters or contained characters like “&” and “?” as opposed to numerals while the irregular tax pins did not start and end with alphabets and did not have the required nine digits between the alphabets.
In addition, another 419 claimants, who were irregularly enrolled in the system have been paid Sh555.9 million while 273 claimants enrolled on dates starting from 2018 which ranged between the year 2022 and 2029 have been paid Sh26.9 million while another 156 claimants under the same category are yet to be paid.