The chaos in the identification and management of public projects across the country has evidently become more and more pronounced in recent years.
Official reports by the Auditor-General have repeatedly painted an image of hopelessness amid stalled projects and wanton wastage and pilferage of public funds.
Some of these projects, especially by county governments, are seldom appraised to ascertain their viability before committing taxpayers’ cash on them.
The projects are mostly conceived and implemented on an ad-hoc manner mainly because the country presently lacks guidelines on evaluation of new investments.
Cartels have long benefited from this gap in public investment and management framework to siphon public funds through senseless projects that offered no economic value.
Some crooks also deliberately inflated project costs to fatten their pockets at the expense of the taxpayer and the country’s economy at large.
The decision to form a new Treasury-based agency to vet and approve new public projects valued at more than Sh100 million is therefore timely and would offer a first step towards curbing misuse of taxpayer funds.
The new agency, if well co-ordinated, offers hope of eliminating wastage of funds by ensuring only viable projects are implemented and in a transparent manner.
Projects by both the counties and the national government should be scrutinised comprehensively across all phases including identification, planning, budgeting and implementation to guarantee value for money.
The success of this agency will however depend on the work relations between the national government and the county teams. We have previously witnessed bad blood between the two groups amid claims of micromanagement by the national government.
We hope this doesn’t recur this time as it is in the interest of all that the integrity of public projects is safeguarded through proper vetting.
County governments should accept the fact that they lack capacity to vet projects and should allow the national government to help them deal with inadequacies that put taxpayer funds at risk.
Joint work teams also help deal with duplicity that slows down work through delayed decisions.