Lobbies concerned over Kenya budget

May 25, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 22 – Governance and Accountability lobby groups in Kenya on Monday said they were increasingly concerned about the accuracy of the June Budget given persistent errors in the Supplementary budget that were re-tabled by Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta last week.

The lobby, led by Mars Group chief Mwalimu Mati, said they had detected a fresh error of Sh10.6 billion in the Supplementary Budget passed by Parliament last week even after they raised the flag on the initial estimates forcing their withdrawal.

Mr Kenyatta was forced to withdraw the estimates from the floor of the House after Central Imenti Member of Parliament Gitobu Imanyara pointed out inaccuracies amounting to Sh10.7 billion.

At the time, the Finance Minister strongly denied there was inconsistencies but later acknowledged there was a mistake but went to great lengths to blame it “on a typing error”.

“The Minister was supposed to correct the initial error in the estimates he presented to Parliament in April, but he went ahead to present a supplementary budget with errors of more or less the same amount of Sh10.6 billion,” Mr Mati told participants at a breakfast meeting in Nairobi on Monday.

“While we acknowledge that the Minister has rectified the initial error, we realise that there is another error on other columns,” he said and called for a ‘thorough audit on the Treasury accounts.’

Mr Mati, who at one time served as Transparency International’s (Kenya chapter) executive director said unless the audit is carried out “Kenyans will lose confidence in the Treasury accounting process.”

“The bigger problem is that Treasury is under a forensic audit, but the audit has never started. So what we are urging is the process to commence so we can restore confidence before the budget of June,” he said.

Participants at the forum blamed lawmakers for failing to countercheck figures presented to them before approval.

“The problem with our MPs is that they are always in a hurry to pass Bills and approve budget estimates even before analysing them,” an activist of the Bunge La Mwananchi said.

Parliamentary Budget Committee Chairman Otieno Ogindo however defended the legislators and blamed the mess on the law and regulations governing Parliament.

‘Whenever budget estimates are presented to Parliament, the time limit is too short. There is usually a specific time given to MPs to scrutinise it and once that time elapses, you cannot raise that issue,” he said.

He however, supported the lobbyists’ call for a thorough audit of the Treasury books.



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