President Uhuru Kenyatta’s nominee for Controller of Budget on Thursday declared her net worth at Sh68 million during her vetting by Parliament where she criticised increased use of taxpayers money on unbudgeted items.
Margaret Nyakango termed her assets as modest. Her estimate included half of the value of her family home, which she acquired through a mortgage.
“We have just finished repaying the loan and I have taken half of that house and put it in my declaration as part of my net worth,” Mrs Nyakango told MPs. She was accompanied by her husband, David Nyakango.
She made the declaration before the National Assembly’s Committee on National Planning where she blamed the disregard for budgets for the mounting pending bills, which have crossed the Sh150 billion mark.
Her networth pales in comparison to individuals recently vetted for top State jobs with majority having assets in excess of Sh150 million. Former Cabinet minister Esther Murugi Mathenge said she was worth Sh320 million while seeking to join the National Land Commission (NLC) while lawyer Gershom Otachi quoted properties of Sh200 million while seeking the same job.
Wealth declaration for those seeking top public office is anchored in the Constitution as a tool in the fight against corruption. A separate law, the Public Officer Ethics Act, requires all State officials together with their spouses and dependent children under the age of 18 years to submit their wealth declaration forms once every two years. The full financial disclosure is a means to allow the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to detect and prevent corruption when top public servants are serving in office.
Mrs Nyakango, who is a director at the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), emphasised the need for tighter budget controls.
The main task of the Controller of Budget is to approve release of cash from the government’s main account — the Consolidated Fund Services — to ministries, counties and State agencies.
“We need to build capacity on budgetary controls. All releases of funds must be related to work plans but requests are made on plans that are not budgeted in the first place. Budgeted plans are then left out hence pending bills,” Mrs Nyakango said.
The 60-year-old said where plans are in the budget but cash flows are not there, institutions have been incurring expenditure on the assumption that funds will come at a later stage but in the process end up with bills that cannot be settled.
If confirmed to the post, Mrs Nyakango will succeed Agnes Odhiambo whose eight-year nonrenewable term ended in August. Fifteen people had applied for the post, including Stephen Masha, the acting Controller of Budget.
Mrs Nyakango, a certified public accountant, holds a Doctorate of Business Administration from the University of Liverpool, UK.