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Auditor General questions Sh.140 million tree planting expenditure

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The Auditor General Nancy Gathungu has questioned the expenditure of more than Sh.140 million by the government on the national tree planting initiative, saying that it was not justified.

 

The audit, which covers the financial year ending June 30, 2023, reveals that the State Department of Environment and Climate Change spent Sh.140,263,000 on the campaign, which aimed to plant 10 million trees across the country.

 

However, the audit report states that no monitoring and evaluation reports on the campaign were provided for review, making it difficult to ascertain the achievement of the intended objectives and the impact of the expenditure.

 

The report also notes that the State Department did not have a clear budget allocation for the campaign, and that the expenditure was charged to various budget items, such as recurrent and development grants, and other operational costs.

 

The report further indicates that the State Department did not follow the procurement procedures and guidelines, and that some of the payments made to the suppliers and service providers were not supported by relevant documents, such as invoices, receipts, and delivery notes.

 

The Auditor General has recommended that the State Department should provide the monitoring and evaluation reports on the campaign, and justify the expenditure incurred.

 

The report has also advised the State Department to adhere to the budgetary and procurement regulations, and to ensure that all payments are properly authorized and documented.

 

The audit report has raised concerns over the accountability and transparency of the government in the management of public funds, especially in the environmental sector, which is crucial for the country’s sustainable development and climate resilience.

 

The report has also cast doubt on the effectiveness and efficiency of the national tree planting initiative, which was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2021, as part of the government’s commitment to increase the forest cover to 10% by 2022.

 

The initiative was also meant to contribute to the global efforts to combat climate change, by enhancing carbon sequestration and biodiversity conservation.

 

Some of the stakeholders who spoke to this reporter on condition of anonymity said that they were disappointed by the audit findings, and that they felt that the government was not serious about the environmental agenda.

 

They also expressed fear that the lack of monitoring and evaluation could lead to the loss or damage of the planted trees, and that the campaign could end up being a waste of public resources.

 

They have called for immediate action to address the audit issues, and to ensure that the tree planting initiative achieves its intended goals and benefits.

 

The report has also elicited reactions from the public and civil society groups, who have accused the government of misusing and misappropriating the funds meant for environmental conservation and restoration.

 

They have demanded that the government should account for every shilling spent on the campaign, and that those responsible for the irregularities should be held accountable and prosecuted.

 

The report has also put pressure on the government to improve its governance and management of the environmental sector, and to demonstrate its commitment and leadership in the fight against climate change.

 

The government has not yet issued an official response to the audit report, but sources indicate that it is likely to form a task force to look into the matter and propose remedial measures.

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