MPs told to cut budgets of thieving ministries

A policy think tank has asked Parliament to slash budgets of ministries facing expenditure queries by the office of the auditor general.

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) recommendations are based on an audit of four key ministries — agriculture, devolution, education and health — which account for a third of the national budget.

IEA Chief Executive Kwame Owino said in a new report released yesterday from its findings, the ministries had failed to keep proper accounts of their expenditure.

He said Parliament needs to use sections of the law to punish accounting officers who help syphon public funds while holding back funding for ministries until they account for lost funds.

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“If you look at the NYS (National Youth Service) scandal, at the same time questions were being raised, Parliament was increasing their expenditure. We need to say that if you do not account for 56 per cent of your budget next year we are not giving you that money until you account for it,” said Mr Owino at the launch in Nairobi.

“It is time for drastic measures,” he said.

IEA found that the Devolution Ministry, which was implicated in the NYS scandal and a recipient of the emergency cash on the current drought disaster, had attracted the attention of the Auditor General Edward Ouko.

In 2014, for instance, Mr Ouko noted one issue from the previous year, while 20 issues came back on the auditors’ desk unresolved the following year followed by 50 other issues in 2016 that he said were recurring.

“The main reasons that led to the prior unresolved audit issues was lack of supporting documents, violation of financial regulations and failure to reconcile books of accounts,” said IEA in its report.

The Health Ministry had eight queries that the auditor general noted as recurrent in 2014, with four others recurring in 2015. Eight previous issues also came up in 2016.

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