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House watchdog calls out State on Sh16b unapproved spending

 Treasury CS Njuguna Ndung'u. [File, Standard]

A National Assembly Committee has faulted Treasury for tabling supplementary estimates two weeks before the lapse of the current financial year.

In a report tabled in the National Assembly, the Budget and Appropriation Committee on Thursday cautioned that lawmakers may not be able to make an informed judgment on some Sh16.3 billion approved as part of the supplementary budget due to a lack of documentation.

The watchdog committee also raised concerns that some of the expenditures outlined in the budget may not be realised due to the short period before the close of the financial year.

The committee chaired by Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro noted in the report tabled in the National Assembly that there is no justification and evidence of the money spent in line with the provisions of Standing Order 243(2c) as per the submitted estimates.

“Without this critical information, National Assembly may not be in a position to make an informed judgment on the rationality of the said expenditure,” reads the Report on the Supplementary Estimates No 2 for Financial Year (FY) 2022/2023.

The committee in the report observed that the National Treasury has already approved expenditures amounting to Sh16.3 billion under the provisions of Article 223 of the Constitution.

Under this provision, the National Government is allowed to spend money not yet appropriated and then seek approval later from Parliament. This approval must be sought two months after the first withdrawal.

Of the Sh16.3 billion, Sh5.1 billion is for recurrent expenditure of which Sh3.8 billion is on account of providing additional resources towards junior secondary school capitation.

The committee observed in the report that of the Sh16.3 billion approved under Article 223 of the Constitution, only Sh4.1 billion has been disbursed.

“Given that supplementary estimates have been submitted barely two weeks to the close of the financial year, some of these expenditures may not be realised,” reads the report.

The committee noted that due to the lack of justification and evidence of the money spent in line fifth provisions of Standing Order 243(2c), the National Assembly may only approve “what can be proved.”

“This further implies that National Assembly may only be able to approve expenditures whose money has already been spent and evidence provided and not what was approved,” the report reads in part.

“This is in accordance with Standing Orders and Resolution of House during Consideration of Supplementary Estimates I for FY 2022/2023.” The committee raised concern over the continued abuse of the provisions of Article 223 of the Constitution.

It also took issue with certain payments among them the Lamu-Ijara-Garissa Road, which had received an allocation of Sh2.8 billion for improvement to an all-weather road.

“The committee noted that the same road had been allocated Sh5 billion in the previous financial year. Even though the Departmental Committee approved the payment, the Budget Committee seeks further clarifications on the scope of work, amount disbursed in the last three financial years and status of the ongoing works,” says the committee report.

An issue was also raised on Treasury’s August 4, 2022 approval of payment of Sh4 billion towards the maize flour subsidy.

“The committee rejected this expenditure on account of non-disclosure of the quantity of maize supplied, the areas which the subsidised flour was supplied and the retail outlets that were involved in distribution,” the report added.

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