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Letters

LETTERS: Council of Governors’ audit objection flawed

county financial reports
Most county financial reports are never published publicly and shared. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Council of Governors' rejection of communique by the Controller of Budget should not go unchallenged. A week ago, the Controller of Budget instructed all the 47 counties to provide records of the full list of casual employees outside the Integrated Personnel Payroll System and the banking records for multiple payments to individuals and suppliers.

This is to be a pre-condition for approval of withdrawal of funds. This list is to be accompanied by an explanation, that is if casual workers have been engaged for more than three months. This communication was rebuffed by the Council of Governors, which holds that it was unlawful and not the mandate for the Controller of Budget to demand so.

This is setting bad precedent. First, the Constitution not only outlines the responsibility of various offices but also their workings. It is assumed that the office holder will execute those duties in the most capable way and also has a duty to ensure integrity in the work processes.

Hence the new procedure is necessary to ensure and aid the officer in work processes. The whole aim of the Controller of Budget's letter, I want to assume is to ensure correct budget Implementation, prevent wastage and corruption, ensure utilization of budget monies intended to what they are meant for.

By the Constitution bestowing it the authority for approval of public funds it is rather obvious that the same office, in further protection of public funds puts measures that should not make blanket withdrawal of these funds.

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For a while now, there has been suspected mischief by county governments, perpetuated by laxity of the county assemblies. Most assemblies are executive puppets who do not perform any oversight role and have turned to be cheerleaders.

One has just to read the controller of Budget reports and Auditor General reports to see this obvious fact. For some time, the Budgeting process has always not been done right, with some sources even suggesting that there could be a possibility of unholy collusion of partners in ammending few budget items after the passage by the assembly.

Counties have continued to spend on 'ghost workers', spending excessively on wage bill, mishandling human resources and personnel by either not declaring or not knowing exact number of employees. In fact, most counties cannot say in certainty the exact number of employees. Many have turned the payroll into an eating scheme to benefit their stomachs. At the end of the fiscal year, it is easier to see why Controller of Budget would be an interested party.

Counties exhaust the Personnel Emoluments vote and proceed to eat into the Operations and Maintenance budget to pay casuals and temporary employees. Overall, this results to over or near half of the budget being taken by wages and employee compensation.

Whenever Development budget or operations and Maintenance budget is touched illegally, the end result will be an increase in unpaid debts by suppliers and pending bills. Most Counties have now adopted a tendency of employing casuals for political reasons.

Most of these people are never absorbed parmanently and are given duplicate roles for the sake of pleasing a certain voting group, clan or ethnic community.

Governments should never be employment bureaus but should create a favourable environment for a thriving private sector and increased Investments to employ the majority folks.

Lastly, the reason why the Public Finance Management Act spells out clearly the need for the publishing of the Quarterly Financial Reports by the executive and onwards to Assembly, after wards being public, is for all the above vices to be prevented. Each budget should actually be an improvement from the previous one in terms of reporting, openness, Implementation and oversighting.

First, most County Assemblies do not scrutinise the quarterly financial reports. Secondly, most of these reports are never published publicly and shared. A keen scrutiny of these reports should reveal how the executive spends taxpayers money and collects revenues.

In detail, it allows the public to know how much was collected, who was paid, how much and what was paid, is the whole process still on track, can the Quarter 1 and 2 reports also act as a prediction for quarter 3 and 4 reports, which can be helpful when doing the supplementary budget.

Senate should therefore call out the CoG for their refusal to comply and assist CoB in effecting these new changes to fight corruption and ensure proper budget Implementation.

George Abwajo, member, Kisumu County Budget and Economic Forum.

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