Governors ‘threaten’ CoB in real-time expenditure push

Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o. FILE PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG

The Controller of Budget (CoB) says she has received threats from some governors in her quest to ensure prudent management of public finance after they have been released by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).

Margaret Nyakang’o told the National Assembly’s Budget and Appropriations Committee (BAC) that the CBK is also yet to grant her office "a full view" of transactions after counties receive the cash.

“We have been refused access to view what we have approved. Counties requisition for funds to pay ABCD but end up paying XYZ after we approve the payment,” she told the MPs.

“In fact, I have been threatened by some governors who warned me that my mandate ends with the approval of the withdrawals from the County Revenue Fund domiciled at the CBK.” She did not reveal the specific county chiefs who have threatened her.

“They told me that my mandate ends with approvals from the Consolidated Fund and not how we spent the money. They said I will never access how we spent their allocations,” she said

Ms Nyakang’o said the CBK had failed to act on her request to have full access to the withdrawals and expenditures by the CBK.

“We need to know whether what counties ask us to approve goes to the intended purpose. Corruption is real since people cut deals by telling those who are not on the priority list to part with something at the expense of those whose payments we approve,” she said.

The CoB does not have real-time access to the accounts, a loophole that counties continue to use in making discriminatory payments to contractors besides lodging fictitious claims.

The counties have been accused of taking advantage of the loophole to strike private arrangements with banks for loans that have added to their financial woes.

“Central Bank has refused. They have told us that they will never give us access. They told us that we need to get a court order for them to grant us access,” said Ms Nyakang’o.

The denial by the CBK prompted the CoB last year to seek help from the Parliament and draft regulations that if approved by the Senate, will compel the banking regulator to grant access to the bank accounts.

CoB, the public office mandated with overseeing the expenditure of public funds, only monitors the use of funds by the national and county governments through quarterly reports.

Counties and the national government are under the law required to submit reports on their expenditure to the CoB every three months.

Expenditure at both levels of government must be approved by the CoB highlighting the critical role of the office in the management of public funds.

But the counties have manipulated these loopholes to make some payments that the CoB says are discriminatory or fictitious.

The Senate of the 12th Parliament rejected the regulations, but the CoB says they will resubmit them to the current Parliament for approval

The regulations, if approved will improve CoB’s tracking of cash outflows from the Consolidated Fund, Equalisation Fund, County Revenue Fund and other public funds to ensure the set ceilings are not breached.

The Consolidated Fund holds money from the national government and is used to pay salaries and service debt.

Money from the Equalisation Fund is used to provide basic services like water and health while the county revenue funds hold cash that the devolved units raise through taxes and levies.

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