The Controller of Budget, Margaret Nyakang'o, has questioned the composition of a committee formed to audit pending bills, saying it locked out critical agencies tasked with scrutinising how taxpayer funds are spent.
She raised doubts about the team’s ability to effectively work without representation from the Auditor General, National Treasury, and the budget controller — three key agencies at the helm of public finance.
A Cabinet sitting chaired by President William Ruto in June approved the formation of the team to audit national government liabilities for the period between 2005 and 2022.
The team comprises the Attorney General, Roads, Public Works, Housing and Urban Development departments, and the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority.
“Establishment of a Special Committee on the verification of pending bills by the Cabinet on 27th June 2023 did not include critical institutions in public finance management such as the Controller of Budget, Office of the Auditor General, the National Treasury and County Treasuries,” Dr Nyakang'o said.
Pending bills for the national government from June 2005 to June this year are estimated at Sh481 billion while those for counties are Sh159.9 billion.
Dr Nyakang'o last year flagged the possible filing of falsified invoices at both levels of government, amid fears that unscrupulous traders are colluding with rogue officials to bleed the two levels of government at the expense of genuine contractors.
Delays in settling pending bills have led to the deterioration of cash flows of many individuals and firms, especially those who tapped bank loans to do business.
The budget chief said the lack of the three entities in the committee is one of the key hurdles that hindered effective budget implementation in the financial year that ended in June.
The committee is expected to table its findings before the end of this financial year.
However, the setting up of the committee fuelled fears that firms that did business with the national government would wait for a long time to be paid, highlighting the critical role of the audit team.
Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u said during the presentation of the Budget Statement that once the pending bills are cleared by the committee, the Treasury would direct all State entities to pay as a first charge on the Budget.