Governors, budget controller in war of words over funds release

During the period, the Controller of Budget approved withdrawal requests totaling Sh179.5 billion to counties, with several counties citing the decision not to approve Sh3.2 billion as an impediment to meeting their financial obligations.

Violating laws

The Controller of Budget identified a number of requests that either violated the laws or failed to provide proper documentation, including requests for per diems by staff totaling millions of shillings without supporting documentation.

The Council of Governors Finance, Planning and Economic Affairs Committee chairperson, Fernandes Barasa, said there was a clear indication of ill motives by the office of the Controller of Budget or incompetence by her officers.

"The Office of the Controller of Budget has in each county a budget coordinator who among others verifies supporting documents for withdrawal of funds from the County Revenue Funds and processes all requisitions," said Barasa.

He went on: "The Council of Governors is calling upon the Controller of Budget to desist from assuming the role of the Auditor General and authorise the transfer of resources to the counties as enumerated in the constitution."

The Kakamega governor was criticising the office of the Controller of Budget, which he said cites inconsistencies in county documents yet there is staff in the counties seconded by her office to go through such documents before submission.

Duplication of efforts

According to Barasa, this amounts to a waste of public funds due to duplication of efforts that are ultimately rendered ineffective, with County Budget Controllers expected to be proactive in eliminating mistakes and inconsistencies.

The Kakamega governor said the attention of the Council of Governors had been drawn over reports published in local dailies on the Controller of Budget rejecting county government requests worth Sh3 billion highlighting issues that were beyond her jurisdiction.

Barasa said county governments are facing issues like delayed disbursement of the county equitable share, delayed remittance of county staff salaries and severe drought in most parts of the country which has made life unbearable.

Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakango who appeared before the Senate Public Investments and Special Funds Committee on Wednesday last week accused the Council of Governors of refusing to let her office review payments made by the counties.

Pass legislation

Nyakango requested the Senate to pass legislation that will compel the Council of Governors to allow the office of the Controller of Budget to review payments made so far by the 47 counties since her office had a constitutional obligation to check on how they were done.

"The only request that my office has with the Senate is to help pass regulations that will make work for my office easier," said Nyakango.

The Controller of Budget informed the committee that no funds had been released to regional economic blocks despite persistent requisitions and that her office was out to ensure public funds are well spent.

Barasa said claims that the Controller of Budget has been threatened by the CoG is an allegation that vilifies efforts by county governments to offer her office the necessary support for her to achieve her constitutional mandate.

He said the Controller of Budget is invited to a meeting with the council so that she airs her grievances as well as the support required to unlock the stalemate.