House report raises alarm over State’s unauthorised spending

Acting National Treasury CS Ukur Yatani when he appeared before the National Finance Committee on supplementary budget estimates for 2019/20 at Parliament on November 19. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]
The Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) has given a damning verdict of the budget drafted by the National Treasury.

PBO cites illegal withdrawals from the national coffers and spending beyond the authorised amounts by ministries and government departments.

PBO also slammed Treasury for sneaking into the budget new expenditure items without indicating the source of finance, even as it took issue with the numerous budget revisions.

This came even as Treasury officials led by acting National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani met members of the National Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committee to deliberate on the latest Supplementary Budget in which the Exchequer seeks to increase the overall budget by Sh80.1 billion.

In its report, “Unpacking of the First Supplementary Estimates for FY2019-20,” PBO noted that the proposal to slash recurrent expenditure by Sh5.7 billion and increase development spending by Sh85.8 billion would result to fiscal slippages, contrary to plans to tighten the government’s belt.

The adviser to lawmakers on budget matters noted that a review of the Supplementary Estimates indicated that no information has been provided on measures taken by the National Government in implementing the recommendations made by the National Assembly on the FY2019/20 budget.

“In particular, some key policies such as submission of a summative report on the progress of the Universal Health Care rollout in the four pilot counties so as to gauge the progress has not been provided and yet resources towards the programme have substantially increased,” read part of the report to Parliament.

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PBO took issue with Treasury’s indication that Sh1.86 billion has already been spent under Article 223 of the Constitution, yet the law requires that this approval must be sought within two months after the first withdrawal.

The approval notwithstanding, Mr Yatani’s ministry did not provide a list of the expenditure.

According to the PBO, the recent trend of having many revisions in any financial year reduces the credibility of the budget. It also took issue with the violation of the law that saw 43 out of 158 programmes exceed a 10 per cent limit on budget changes.

The 158 approved programmes translate to 1,652 targets.

“Overall, the number of targets under the supplementary budget have reduced by 777, representing a 52.9 per cent decline from the printed estimates. This is likely to affect key outcomes within the different programmes,” said the report.

For instance, the PBO noted that there is a proposed reduction in the number of targets by 29 per cent, 27 per cent, and 60 per cent in the Ministry of Health, the State Department for Interior and the State Department for Vocational and Technical Training, respectively.

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PBONational TreasuryUkur YataniSupplementary EstimatesNational Assembly