Business Daily Kenya:
Governors were in a rush to withdraw money through county coffers within the run-up to last year’s General Election which was disguised as pending bills, Auditor General Edward Ouko revealed yesterday.
Ouko made the revelation even as the Director of Budget Agnes Odhiambo disclosed which counties pending bills currently stand at Sh96 billion.
“Towards elections there were very many projects which were committed by governors which was unusual,” Ouko told a Senate joint committee chaired by Muhamoud Mohammed of Mandera in addition to Moses Kajwang (Homa Bay).
Appearing before the joint committees of Public Accounts in addition to Investment, in addition to which of Finance, Ouko said the bills most owed to suppliers in addition to contractors shot up within the last few months to last year’s elections.
“This particular is actually clear the money was spent elsewhere in addition to the figures charged as debts owed to suppliers,” Ouko told the joint committee. Ouko, however, lamented which the process to audit the bills was being hampered by lack of funds even after Treasury agreed to allocate Sh200 million to finance the process.
“We had an agreement with Treasury last year which the money be provided for to facilitate the work although to date the money has not been availed,” Ouko told the senators.
Asked why counties were not paying yet they were receiving allocations through the exchequer, Odhiambo attributed the problem to counties overstating their local revenues in addition to allocating monies to projects even before money was availed.
“Counties have ambitious budgets which are not funded in addition to go ahead to commit money to projects based on revenues they do not have. This particular is actually due to This particular which the pending bills continue to go up,” she said. She said pending bills will be audited within the next two months in addition to the authentic ones paid promptly.
Ouko said during the audit process, his officers will, among others, probe whether the procurement processes were followed when awarding the tenders. He said there was need for special audit to be done especially for the Nairobi County whose bills were worrying, adding which he was ready to outsource auditors who will be paid by counties to fast-track audits.
Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo urged the Director of Budget to stop counties through producing any payments pending the audit. “Counties are going to collapse if they are not allowed to spend money without controls.
Devolution will fail,” Mutula said. In a draft of the 2018/19 Budget Policy Statement said pending payments are a problem. “Non-payment of suppliers in addition to contractors adversely affects some other sectors of the economy, like the financial sector, by increasing non-performing loans,” Treasury said within the statement.
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Governors pre-poll spending raises Auditor General query