NAIROBI, Kenya, May 14 – Auditor General Edward Ouko has defended counties with bizarre budget lines that have raised serious audit queries.
Speaking at a Nairobi hotel after he launched the 2018 Cyber Security Report by cyber firm Serianu, Ouko said in the case of Kiambu County and others which had budget lines for State House and other questionable expenses, it was confusion in accounting because counties have been using the National Government’s budget template.
“I think you have systems of accounting and then there is subsidiary reporting which is supposed to be done on the budget separately and meant to go to the County Assembly and this was really intended by the Treasury to allow the counties once they have the accounts ,they align the budget heads,” Ouko said.
The Auditor General’s assurance puts to an end speculation that hundreds of millions may have been lost through corruption in the affected counties which were flagged by the Senate County Public Accounts and Investments Committee.
“It is just an issue of bad reporting or the information was slotted into a template which was not customized for that particular reporting of the county budget so you end up with some budget heads from a template of the National Government budget so it is not an issue of whether the counties spent money on those items no,” he said.
Up to 11 counties were affected by the audit queries, prompting the Council of Governors to call for a suspension of the Senate audit proceedings but the committee chairman Moses Kajwang has vowed that they will continue.
The issue of strange budget lines came to light when Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu appeared before the Senate watchdog committee on May 2.
According to the auditor’s report, the county had budget lines for coordination of State House functions amounting to Sh937,839,449 and Administration of Statutory benefits for retired Presidents of Sh180,506,800 among others.
The Senate County Public Accounts and Investment Committee directed the Auditor General to conduct a special audit for the 2017/2018 financial year in Kiambu County and submit a report within 45 days.
Senator Moses Kajwang’ (Homabay) made the ruling after Governor Waititu said he was not aware of such accounts and promised that an investigation will be done.
“Considering the grave issues, we have raised on the audit report and accompanying financial documents, this committee directs the Auditor General to undertake a special report of Kiambu County Government for the financial year 2017/2018 and submit the report within 45 days. We shall have a side discussion with the auditors on how to practically carry out this exercise,” Kajwang’ directed.
Meanwhile Ouko has asked Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko to provide evidence that some auditors sought for a bribe from him in order to write a favorable report for the county.
Ouko said his office takes integrity seriously and if indeed some staffs are being compromised as Sonko claimed, action will be taken against them.
“Governor Sonko is a very respected person so when he says that he should provide some elements which could allow us to take some action not just claiming things; but we do take his concerns seriously and if we get any information we do have some systems and if indeed what he claims did happen we will deal with it and take action because my office upholds integrity,” he said.
While appearing before the Senate County Public Accounts and Investment Committee on April 30, Sonko discredited the Auditor General’s report and alleged that the auditors asked for a bribe.
On 4 May, the governor further called for the suspension and investigation of auditors who wrote the 2017/2018 financial reports for Nairobi and Kiambu Counties.
He faulted the auditor’s saying they wrote a negative report for Nairobi County after he refused to bribe them and a favorable one for Kiambu County which was discredited by the Senate watchdog committee.
“The same auditors went to Kiambu and they were given what I refused to give them, so they wrote a better report only to come before the Senate and so many issues were unearthed, and the committee rejected that report. I want to tell the Senate Committee, if you are serious with your oversight role and you want to get rid of corruption; these auditors should be suspended until the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) is done with its investigation,” said Sonko.