Treasury official asks MPs to limit access to funds without Parliament nod


The National Treasury building in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

A top Treasury official who manages the Consolidated Fund has asked MPs to amend the Constitution to stop the abuse of the provision that allows the withdrawal and use of funds without the approval of Parliament.

Bernard Ndung’u, the director general of Accounting Services and Quality Assurance, says Article 223 of the Constitution has been misused due to its broadness.

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The Article allows the government to spend without approval if the allocation is insufficient or a need arises for which there is no appropriation.

The Treasury should table a mini-budget in Parliament two months after withdrawing funds from the Consolidated Fund without the approval of MPs.

“To address abuse, there is a need to tighten the law because the threshold is very high at 10 percent,” Mr Ndung’u said.

“If the budget is Sh3 trillion, 10 percent prescribed under Article 223 means that the Treasury can access up to Sh300 billion without a parliamentary approval.”

He proposed that Parliament limit the 10 percent threshold to individual vote heads as opposed to the entire national budget.

Mr Ndung’u appeared before a joint parliamentary committee that is probing the withdrawal of Sh6.14 billion to facilitate the exit of Helios Investment LLP from Telkom Kenya.

He said the Treasury sought the advice of the Attorney General on the 10 percent threshold but the AG "advised on March 12, 2019, that Article 223 applies to the entire budget and is not limited to a specific vote head.”

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He said in his "10 years at the Treasury as the Accountant General and having served the third Cabinet Secretary, I strongly believe that we need to limit this Article to a specific vote head.”

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