Competence hitches blamed for slow adoption of IFMIS

Parliament has criticised the Treasury for failing to fully operationalise the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMIS) despite spending over Sh5 billion in its infrastructure, and whose integrity has raised serious concerns.

The legislators said the online platform, which Treasury has promoted as the best tool to manage resources “cannot stop pilferage of public resources.”

“The issue of IFMIS has been of great concern to us. Some accounting officers have come before us to say they are neither integrated nor manage anything,” Nicholas Gumbo, who chairs Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), said at a policy meeting bringing together the heads of various arms of government including the presidency.

The Treasury has insisted that all national and county governments’ ministries and departments use IFMIS in their transactions, arguing it allowed traceability in budgeting, making room for monitoring progress of development projects.

The integrity of the payments and procurement system was cast in serious doubt after reports of attempts to steal Sh891 million from the account of the National Youth Service through a stolen password. Investigations later revealed theft of Sh791 million at the youth agency. Former Planning and Devolution Cabinet secretary Anne Waiguru resigned following the scandal.

Thursday, Finance principal secretary Dr Kamau Thugge acknowledged that there have been difficulties but noted that efforts were being made to address them.

“We know that some accounting officers have appeared before you and conceded they had had challenges with the system. We also are aware that we have competence challenges for some accounting officers,” he told the meeting.

Mr Gumbo and his Public Investment Committee (PIC) counterpart Adan Keynan also cast doubt on the competence of accounting officers in ministries.

“The issue of preparing accounts and adherence of accounting standards is a big problem. Ministries have presented to us erroneous lists of assets registers.

“The ministry of Lands, that of Roads and Health said they couldn’t deal with audit queries raised because they don’t have capacity yet they are the biggest recipient of public funds,” Mr Gumbo challenged.

Mr Keynan said watchdog committees would remain vigilant and would not allow audit queries to go unanswered.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) said there was need to embed criminal investigation officers in PIC and PAC to ensure prompt actions against those involved in misappropriation of public funds.

Mr Keriako Tobiko said he could not prosecute based on House reports and has to order CID to investigate further before recommending prosecutions.

The meeting that was chaired by National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, brought together accounting officers in the Executive, Parliament and Judiciary.

Chief registrar Anne Amadi (Judiciary), Agnes Odhiambo (Controller of Budget), Edward Ouko (Auditor-General), Abdikadir Mohammed (president’s advisor on Constitution), Njee Muturi (Solicitor-General) and Jeremiah Nyegenye (Parliamentary Service Commission) also attended the meeting.

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