Governors ‘loot public money’ via local revenue, pending bills

Controller of budget Agnes Odhiambo.Photo/File
Controller of budget Agnes Odhiambo.Photo/File

Governors are looting millions of shillings in taxpayers’ money from county revenue and pending bills, the Controller of Budget said yesterday.

Agnes Odhiambo told the National Assembly Finance committee the governors are reluctant to declare the millions of shillings collected and exact figures of pending bills to fleece the public.

Odhiambo told the committee, chaired by Subukia MP Nelson Gaichuhie, that the counties have been spending the undeclared revenue at source.

Barred by law

Her office cannot stop the practice because the CoB Act bars her, she says.

“Our hands are tied because the law does not allow us to report on local revenue. The counties have not been declaring the income collected and this is why most governors have appeared before the Senate to answer audit queries on local tax,” Odhiambo said.

She cited Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero’s administration as among the counties that do not announce collected revenue. Odhiambo said no county has attained its revenue target since devolution.

Mavoko MP Patrick Makau said the governors could be pocketing the revenue because the sums announced are far less compared to the collections made. “We used to collect Sh1.5 billion in Mavoko municipality but now the entire Machakos county collects Sh410 million. This might be the money the governor is using to launch his political party and opening offices,” Makau said.

Avenue for fraud

Odhiambo said the governors have been estimating figures of pending bills instead of declaring all sums.

“We have been reporting on these pending bills in the counties and it could be an avenue of ongoing fraudulent activities because some are not genuine. We don’t understand how governors have ended up with huge pending bills,” she said. Kidero has been piling pressure on the national government to clear Sh69 billion it owes the county in terms of pending bills from parking and license fees, among others.

The Senate Public Accounts Committee chaired by Kisumu Senator Anyang Nyong’o in May asked the Auditor General‘s office to “urgently” conduct a special audit to determine the exact amount of Nairobi county’s pending bills.

This was after Kidero and his finance officers failed to account for Sh42 million collected as parking fees in 2013-14. Senate Speaker Ekwee Ethuro in March directed the Auditor General to conduct a special audit of pending bills in all the counties.