Editorials

Hold officials accountable for extravagant allowances

NancyGathungu2610m

Auditor General Nancy Gathungu. PHOTO | LUCY WANJIRU | NMG

BDgeneric_logo

Summary

  • State corporations spending huge amounts of resources on senseless meetings and travel is a matter that has dominated public debate over the years.
  • Many State agencies have defended some of these expenditures as ‘work-related’, even though critics read mischief.
  • This debate is healthy and should continue for the sake of accountability.

State corporations spending huge amounts of resources on senseless meetings and travel is a matter that has dominated public debate over the years.

Many State agencies have defended some of these expenditures as ‘work-related’, even though critics read mischief. This debate is healthy and should continue for the sake of accountability.

In a new report, Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu has revealed that the Kenya Water Towers Agency (KWTA) spent over Sh31.43 milion on allowances for board meetings in a single year. The agency paid board members to attend 78 meetings in 2019 — way above the permissible four annually, according to the report.

Simply put, the KWTA board held about six meetings every month and drew allowances from each of these sessions.

This doesn’t bode well for prudent management of public resources. Without seeming to belittle the role of KWTA, it is difficult to find a convincing reason for holding such a large number of meetings. What was the emergency? Was there a crisis?

KWTA has a mission to coordinate and oversee the protection, rehabilitation, conservation, and sustainable management of water towers. Environmental conservation is no doubt critical but in the case of the KWTA board’s expenditure on meetings, something doesn’t add up.

Such irrational expenditure isn’t unique to KWTA. Previous audits have shone a light on many other State agencies that spent huge amounts of taxpayers’ money on items such as food, drinks, and entertainment. This kind of wastage should stop especially in these tough economic times when households are struggling to survive.

State agencies must be compelled to draw up comprehensive work plans that detail things like essential meetings and travels to avoid cheeky expenditure by officials who may be on rent-seeking missions.

Abuse of allowance schemes is rife in the public service and should be brought to an end for the sake of the already burdened taxpayers.

Any official found culpable of misusing public resources should be compelled to make a refund. Prudence should prevail in public expenditure.