Moses Kajwang elected as Senate Public Accounts Committee Chairperson

Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang. [Samson Wire, Standard]

Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang has been elected as the Chairperson of the powerful Senate Public Accounts Committee.

Kajwang who is serving a third term in Parliament was elected unopposed while Nandi Senator Samson Cherargey was elected as the Committee Vice Chairperson.

The Homa Bay Senator will lead the nine-member committee whose mandate will be to exercise oversight of the national revenue allocated to county governments in accordance with Article 96 (3) of the constitution.

"We are going to be proactive this time round we will not wait for things to go wrong in any of our 47 Counties before we act, we will ensure that our county governments use funds allocated to them prudently," said Kajwang.

Cherargey was elected after Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna who had been proposed by Kajwang for the Vice Chairperson person failed to get a seconder for the seat after which members unanimously voted for the Nandi Senator.

Kajwang said that the Committee will ensure that recommendations made in the past will be implemented so as to ensure that they are effective in keeping the county government in check.

Busia senator Okiya Omtatah, who is well known for his role as a public defender through public-spirited litigations said implementation of the recommendations of the committee is at the heart of good governance.

Omtatah informed the Committee that death does not absolve a public officer from accountability as provided for in the constitution asking Public Servants to be diligent in the performance of their duties.

"It is time Public Servants were made aware that mismanagement will not be overlooked simply because someone has died or left office, those who squander public funds will be answerable even when they leave office," he said.

The Senate Public Accounts Committee will also be expected to examine the reports of the Auditor General on the annual accounts of the county governments besides performing its primary role to ensure prudent expenditure of funds in the counties.

In a landmark ruling delivered on October 7, 2022, the Supreme Court, apart from affirming the power of the Committee to summon governors, ruled that the Senate's oversight authority is not limited to nationally allocated revenue but extends to locally generated revenue by counties.

In the petition, which had been filed by the Council of Governors, the counties had argued that the oversight authority of senators was only limited to national revenue not locally generated revenue.

But the Supreme Court ruled that the County Assemblies have the power of first-tier oversight over County Government revenue, whether nationally allocated or locally generated.

Kajwang welcomed the judgment but pointed out that there is need for the House to develop a framework to guide the decision to avoid duplication between the Senate and the County Assemblies.

With the committee formally starting its work, it is confronted by a myriad of challenges facing the counties that the Office of the Auditor General has detailed in its annual reports.

Among the major challenges are the Pending Bills in the counties and the rising wage bill which is far outstrips the development budget.

A report by the Office of the Controller of Budget indicates that county governments have accumulated pending bills worth Sh107 billion as of June 2022.

Committee Members include Senators: Richard Onyonka (Kisii), John Methu (Nyandarua), Gataya Mwenda (Tharaka Nithi), Fatuma Dullo (Isiolo) and Mariam Omar (Nominated).