ACCOUNTABILITY

State auditor wants public accounts and assets secured ahead of polls

Also calls for clearance of pending bills before leadership changes at national government counties.

In Summary

•Auditor General Nancy Gathungu says her office will audit public assets and governments accounts to ensure proper handing over to the incoming regimes.

•The OAG has launched the first audit report published in Kiswahili.

Auditor General Nancy Gathungu during a session in Parliament, December 7, 2021.
Auditor General Nancy Gathungu during a session in Parliament, December 7, 2021.
Image: EZEKIEL AMING'A

The Auditor General wants public assets and finances well accounted for ahead of the August 9 polls, for a smooth transition at the national and county governments.

The state auditor also wants all outgoing accounting officers and Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), and county governments to ensure they clear all pending bills and keep proper records.

Nancy Gathungu said her office will audit public assets and governments accounts to ensure proper handing over to the incoming regimes.

There have been cases of public assets being taken over by individuals, or sold during the transition.

Some governors have previously also decried taking over empty coffers or heavily indebted county governments, which hinder operations.

The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) has also in the past flagged suspicious dealings, mainly contractors’ claims that cannot be justified, pointing to scheming between government officials and some traders.

An Intergovernmental Budget and Economic Council was in April this year told Sh107 billion pending bills being sought by county suppliers and contractors were ineligible, as they lacked supporting documents.

Out of Sh153 billion pending bills declared by the county governments, only Sh45.5 billion were proven free for payments.

Counties’ pending bills stood at Sh128.94 billion as of December 31, according to Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o, but have since increased.

The national government owed contractors and suppliers Sh467.7 billion in the first half of the financial year 2021-22.

The bills comprised Sh414 billion in respect of state corporations and Sh53 billion for ministries, departments and other entities.

“We want to ensure that public sector entities and accounting are preparing comprehensive reports for handing over because that has been a problem in the previous transitions," she said.

She said previously assets have not been properly documented or listed, bank accounts or cash in bank is not properly reconciled and handing over reports on outstanding contract performance or projects is not being done

Gathugu spoke in Nairobi yesterday at a forum with the Kenya Editors' Guild  where the OAG also launched the first ever Kiswahili audit report, for the 2019/ 2020 financial year.

“We don't want the case of 2017 especially at the counties when outgoing governors did not properly handover to incoming governors, and we are still trying to unravel the issues to do with asset management,” Gathungu said.

She said all outgoing accounting officers should ensure they clear all pending bills before new administrations since incoming accounting officers will come and find the budget already done.

Gathungu committed to avail more Kiswahili audit reports to increase the reach and understanding on how public finances are utilised.

Tanzania’s Controller Auditor General Charles Kichere, who was the chief guest said the move will increase the reach of the critical document to many Kenyans.

Kenya Editors Guild presiden,t Churchill Otieno, said it the media will work closely with the OAG to inform and educate the public on audits and other related issues.

Separately, Gathungu has called on MPs to ensure their constituencies channel the National Constituency Development Funds to the right purpose, amid fears the funds are being diverted into campaigns.

She said funds allocated to NCDF have targeted projects which should continue to benefit until the financial year 2021/22 comes to a close.

 

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