NAIROBI, Kenya, May 13 – Migori Governor Okoth Obado has been given seven days by a Senate Committee to provide documents showing how Sh1.5 billion was spent in the 2017/2018 financial year.
While appearing before the County Public Accounts and Investment Committee, the governor who was hard pressed to account for his county’s expenditure said he was not able to provide financial documents because they were destroyed in a fire.
“I want to agree with the auditor that we were not able to provide the financial statements showing how that money was used but that does not mean that the money was unlawfully spent. It was during that unfortunate fire incident that those records were destroyed,” Obado said.
Committee members led by Homabay Senator Moses Kajwang’ were however not satisfied with Obado’s explanation saying the documents could have been re-created.
“The response by the governor does not address the issue. It has talked about a taskforce, DCI investigation and mitigation. What you ought to have done is break down Sh1.5 billion that was used during that period. You would have said for example Sh600mn was used to pay salaries; no one would doubt that salaries were paid. Sh800mn went to the assembly – no one would doubt that but all you are talking about are generalities,” said Kajwang’.
“I want to direct that you provide those documents to the Auditor General within seven days and then the auditor will submit them to this committee after they go through them.”
Other committee members also expressed disappointment in the manner governors are handling financial records, saying they are not in touch with their county financial matters.
“Why is it that it has taken you over a year and a half and you still have not re-created those documents? Can’t you call the bank to give you a list of people you pay? Can’t you call your suppliers to give you the receipts?” Narok Senator Ledama Ole Kina wondered.
The Auditor General Edward Ouko gave a disclaimer of opinion to Migori County, meaning he could not audit the county expenditure because he was not provided with the necessary financial documents needed for auditing.
Meanwhile, Kajwang’ also called on the Council of Governors (CoG) not to interfere with committee proceedings and allow governors to appear before is as scheduled.
“I am glad that Governor Obado appeared before this committee today and I am asking the CoG to do their own job with regards to audit queries without affecting our work by urging governors not to appear before us,” he said.
Last Tuesday, the Council of Governors asked the Senate to halt their proceedings after a meeting between the Controller of Budget and officials from the Auditor General’s office concluded that Kiambu and several other counties did not budget, receive or spend monies indicated in audit reports.
A consultative meeting between the three institutions observed that the counties in question did not have the budget items, which included State House functions, South Sudan Peace process and retired Presidents.
CoG Chairman, Wycliffe Oparanya stated that they resolved to form a multi-stakeholder technical committee chaired by the Controller of Budget and comprising the CoG, Treasury and Auditor General who should give a report in 14 days.
Their request was however rejected by the committee which vowed to continue with its sittings in accordance with the notice of appearances published in the media and in line with Article 229 (8) of the Constitution of Kenya.
On Wednesday last week, Kajwang’ stated that any governor who fails to appear before the House without reasonable cause shall attract the consequences spelt out in Section 19 of the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act.