Root out the costly indiscipline in Kenya's public finance management


The Kenya shilling posted its strongest intra-day gain against the US dollar in the last 12 years.

Kenya's public finance management system has long been plagued by indiscipline, resulting in the misappropriation and mismanagement of public funds.

One striking example of this indiscipline is the continued allocation of funds to county governments despite their failure to adequately address outstanding audit queries from previous accounting periods. This practice not only perpetuates a culture of impunity but also exposes the government to further financial losses.

The lack of accountability and transparency in public financial management is a direct violation of the fundamental tenets of good governance. Effective governance hinges on the establishment of robust structures for planning, execution, and accountability.

These structures should not only ensure the efficient and effective use of public resources but also provide mechanisms for identifying and addressing financial irregularities.

The high cost of indiscipline in Kenya's public financial management system extends far beyond mere financial losses. It erodes public trust, hindering the government's ability to mobilise resources for development and hindering its efforts to achieve its socio-economic goals. It also breeds resentment and frustration among citizens who witness their hard-earned tax revenues being squandered through mismanagement and corruption.

The time to address this crisis of indiscipline is now. The government must take decisive action to strengthen its public financial management systems, ensuring that every penny is used effectively and accounted for transparently.

Good governance is built on pillars of accountability, transparency, rule of law, and responsiveness. In the context of financial management, accountability is paramount. It demands that public officials are answerable for their decisions and actions concerning public resources. The persistent neglect of audit queries and the allocation of funds to entities with financial irregularities defy the principles of accountability, setting a dangerous precedent.

Moreover, transparency in financial dealings is indispensable for fostering public trust. The cost of financial indiscipline is not merely monetary; it extends to the very fabric of societal progress. Indiscipline in accounting for public funds leads to a lack of funds for essential services, hindering the government's ability to provide quality healthcare, education, infrastructure, and other critical services. Citizens are left to bear the brunt of inadequate public services, compromising their well-being and hindering the country's development trajectory.

Additionally, financial indiscipline fosters a culture of corruption, as unchecked mismanagement of funds provides fertile ground for embezzlement and graft.  This not only diverts resources away from legitimate developmental projects but also erodes public confidence in government institutions.

The writer is a logistics and marketing consultant.