Politics and policy
Treasury in race to link up counties
Posted Sunday, July 15 2012 at 18:31
The Treasury is running against time to complete a computerisation programme to link up ministries and counties by December in a race to improve the financial accounting system.
Financial Secretary Mutua Kilaka said all ministries will be connected to a re-engineered Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) by end of September while counties will be ready by December.
“We have procured service providers to roll out the re-engineered IFMIS system to all ministries and departments by September and thereafter roll out to counties by Christmas,” Mr Kilaka told three joint committees dealing with money matters in Parliament.
The Budget Committee, chaired by Elias Mbau, wanted to know when the computerisation commonly referred to as e-government would be complete following revelation by the national audit office that accounting system of government was “chaotic and in a shambles.”
Mr Kilaka said staff were being trained at the Government Training School, formerly the Kenya Institute of Administration.
“We want when governors take office, the IFMIS system will be operating,” the financial secretary said when he appeared before the MPs last week to shed light on inconsistencies in the revenue statement for the 2007/08 financial year.
“Like most of Kenyans especially you MPs, I have heard about computerisation for a very long time and I want to assure the country that this time round the Treasury is serious in its quest to improve accounting system in order to ease service delivery.”
MPs sought to know arrangements in place to ensure the “accounting malpractices” do not spread to the county governments where significant resources will be channelled.
The Committee echoed fears expressed by the auditor-general, Edward Ouko, that counties risk turning into avenues of revenue loss due to poor accounting mechanisms as is currently the case with ministries which do not keep proper books of accounts despite the introduction of IFMIS.
“There is chaos in government accounting system despite the introduction of IFMIS. There is great potential that the same mess will be transferred to the counties unless the Treasury comes up with one harmonised basis of accounting based on IFMIS,” Mr Ouko said.
Despite IFMIS being in place, Mr Ouko said accounting officers continue to use manual system while others use both systems.
“We appeal to you to grant the Auditor General more power to pin any accounting malpractice to an individual when they forward us chaotic accounts even after we have made endless recommendations that are often not acted upon,” Mr Ouko said.
The committee asked the Auditor General to provide a list of offending government ministries which continue to sidestep the use of IFMIS to prescribe appropriate sanctions.
Mr Kilaka acknowledged that challenges persist in accounting largely due to inadequate staffing. “We have put in place sound interventions to ensure that government revenues are accurately captured and reported to Parliament and Kenyans,” he said.
He said apart from when the Treasury, Kenya Revenue Authority and Central Bank of Kenya meet monthly on revenue, the Auditor General has been enabled to track data to the end of a financial year.
The Treasury says the implementation of IFMIS will tighten revenue management.