July 26th 2017

Media / Arts & Culture

Bomas, the repository of Kenyan tribal cultures, has no title for its land nor record of assets

The report indicts the corporation’s management right from its being saddled with unqualified members of the management board to weak book keeping.

By Derrick Kirakadkiraka@kenyafreepress.comTuesday, 28 Jun 2016 11:35 EAT

The name 'Bomas' has become synonymous with Kenya’s recent political struggles. During the protracted search for a new constitution in the early 2000s, Bomas of Kenya was the venue of the constitutional conference that saw difficult debates and negotiations on the national charter. The 'Bomas Draft' entered the political lexicon as the dream unrealized.

In the 2013 elections, Bomas was once again in the headlines, this time as the national tallying centre for presidential votes. In between, the company has hosted small events, such as talks aimed at ethnic reconciliation in 2012. The activities have provided Bomas of Kenya Limited, which began as a cultural village to showcase Kenyan ethnic cultures in 1971, with brisk business.

So lucrative is the conference business for Bomas that the government recently embarked on a plan to establish the Bomas International Convention and Exhibition Centre at Bomas, in order to attract more conferences and income for the company.

This good fortune, however, could be upended by weak institutional management, according to the latest Auditor General's report on Bomas. The report indicts the corporation’s management right from its being saddled with unqualified members of the management board to weak book keeping.

The report also calls for the delinking of Bomas from its parent company Tourism Finance Corporation, the state tourism promotion agency which owns 100 percent of the shareholding in Bomas, saying the two are in a problematic relationship that impedes accountability and the full performance of Bomas of Kenya Limited.

“The issue of premise on which a subsidiary company fully owned indebtedness to its mother company was addressed in the 8th parliamentary Public Investments Committee (PIC) report in which it was recommended that the two institutions delink in order for them to be separate entities,” says the report.

The auditors offered a qualified opinion on the corporation’s financial statements for the period ending June 30, 2015, warning that BOK is not taking good care of its assets, including the land on which it sits, which is worth at least a few scores of billions.

The auditor’s report also called on proper assessment of trade and receivables and valuation of assets of the cultural parastatal.

The recommendation to separate BOK from the Tourism Finance Corporation has been endorsed by the Tourism and Wildlife Ministries and the Finance Ministry since 1996, the auditor noted, but the decision has not been implemented.

As a result of failure to implement PIC recommendation, the Company continues to face legal challenges in meeting its obligations to Tourism Finance Corporation since it is not a separate entity.

“As reported in previous years, the trade and other receivables balance of Sh17,177,668 as at 30 June 2015 is net of Sh5,844,308 which has been outstanding for over 10 years and which is fully provided for. However, in spite of the PIC recommendations to have the board approval to regularize the bad and the doubtful debts, no efforts have been made to have the matter resolved.”

In the evaluation of the Company’s assets, the auditor decried the lack of assessment of its assets in 20 years, thereby making it hard for determine as factual the figures of Sh1,502,407,671 as the balance for property, plant and equipment as at 30 June 2015.

The auditor also called out the Company for failing to seek ownership of the title deed for its land in Langata, which has also not been revalued in twenty years.

“The company has not valued its assets in twenty (20) years to take into cognizance of the drastic change in value of its assets,” says the audit report.

BOK was also found to have weak internal audit systems, with only one staff member employed in the internal audit department during the year under review.

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