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Senate report on county funds hurts governors' re-election bid

COUNTIES
By Roselyne Obala | February 26th 2017

Just six months to the General Election, governors seeking re-election have to battle the poor governance tag as Senate unleashes reports on alleged misuse of public funds.

An explosive report on 10 counties by the Senate Public Accounts and Investment Committee tabled in the House on Thursday highlights the gaps that hinder proper implementation of devolution.

Senate has faulted the management of county governments under the current governors and MCAs, accusing them of embezzling public funds in bloated workshops, incompetence in discharging their constitutional mandate and breaching the Constitution and subsidiary laws.

The issue of foreign travels and unsurrendered imprests also featured prominently during the senators' probe on county audits.

Also, the efficacy of the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) is questionable, as the current form only captures revenue not expenditure.

For governors and MCAs, the report comes at a bad time, since the electorate might take them to task during the campaigns, giving an upper hand to their opponents.

Aspirants may also use the report as a platform to discredit the incumbents and try to prove to voters that they are not fit for office. Given that most senators now want to be governors, the report is likely to be passed by the House when it is presented for debate.

In the report, the senators noted that MCAs have been unable to audit the county executives because they have become "too friendly".

The committee recommended the prosecution of Governors William Kabogo (Kiambu), Okoth Obado (Migori), Jack Ranguma (Kisumu) Sospeter Ojaamong (Busia), Patrick Khaemba (Trans Nzoia), Salim Mvurya (Kwale), Daniel Waithaka (Nyandarua) and Moses Lenolkulal (Samburu) over loss of funds under their watch.

The figures in question run to millions of shillings and mostly arising from misuse of imprests, which was a recurring issue in most counties.

Senators decried the rampant breach of the Public Financial Management Act, Public Procurement and Disposal Act, Public Audit Act and Government Financial Regulations and Procedures.

"Quite often County Assemblies have been compromised by the Executive not to perform their oversight function," reads the report.

Many governors were censured for not instilling financial management discipline on their officers, even where financial regulations and laws were contravened by officers.

The senators took issue with governors' failure to take corrective measures, including prosecution or disciplinary action on those culpable.

"By such omission, they become complicit," reads the report compiled by the committee chaired by Kisumu Senator Anyang' Nyong'o.

The senators argued that governors, being the county CEOs, must at all times ensure all officers and institutions under them exercise prudent financial management and controls, in compliance with the Constitution and relevant laws and regulations. Failure to do so, they shall be held personally liable.

Prof Nyong'o observed that poor record-keeping made accountability and audit difficult in the counties.

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