Rotich says governors resisting online tendering fear scrutiny

Governors are resisting online procurement because they fear being held liable for financial flaws at the counties, Treasury secretary Henry Rotich has said.

Mr Rotich told the Senate County Public Accounts and Investment Committee sitting in Nairobi that the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMIS) was meant to enhance transparency and accountability in the public sector.

He said it was improper for governors to push for suspension of the system on grounds that it was not working in counties with Internet connectivity challenges.

“We are building capacity for counties that face challenges. Unfortunately, we train staff and later on they are transferred or sacked,” Mr Rotich said at Parliament Buildings.

As a result, some counties have had to wait for qualified personnel to travel from Nairobi to assist them operate the system. He said that abandoning the system was not optional, adding that the government will continue training county staff until the entities have the required number of qualified personnel.

The Senate committee wondered why the government rolled out the online procurement system before ensuring counties had the right infrastructure and personnel in place.

Senators said that the system does not work in some counties yet financial transactions have timelines that must be observed.

“Even after money has been credited to county accounts, governors can’t access the funds because of system failures. On paper the cash flow is there but in effect there is no money at the counties,” said Senator Billow Kerrow said.

The senators cited counties in northern Kenya as the most affected as they lack power and fibre-optic infrastructure which are important for e-procurement.

Peter Munya, the Council of Governor’s chairman, has argued that the law requires county governments to come up with a financial management system that can work to ensure accountability.