The Controller of Budget is concerned that taxpayers could be losing hundreds of millions of shillings in payments made outside the payroll by county governors.
But the governors have moved swiftly to shoot down Dr Margaret Nyakango’s request for details of the expenditures.
The Council of Governors has directed its members to ignore queries from the budget oversight office, arguing that Dr Nyakango was overreaching her mandate by allegedly trying to perform the role of the Auditor-General.
That is a myopic interpretation of the role of the Controller of Budget. Under Article 252 (1) (a) of the Constitution, the office has the power to conduct investigations on its own initiative whenever it suspects financial impropriety. And payments upwards of Sh20 million outside the payroll, as Dr Nyakango points out, are substantial if used improperly. We can think of no reason why governors would be opposed to the scrutiny if their hands are clean.
Closing their doors on the Controller of Budget goes against the principal of accountability expected of every public office bearer. Their behaviour is reminiscent of the pre-devolution days when ministers treated public kitties like their pocket money. We would like to think those days are behind us. We challenge the governors to open their records to scrutiny and prove us wrong.