, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 14 – It has now emerged that for the last three financial years, the Nakuru County Government has been spending monies without the approval of the County Assembly.
During an appearance before the Senate Public Accounts Committee chaired by Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale, Governor Kinuthia Mbugua admitted that he had not submitted the required documents to the County Assembly for concurrence.
“We would like to know how it came to pass that for three years, you have been spending money without the approval of the County Assembly,” said Khalwale prompting the Governor to admit the error.
“We stand corrected. There is no way we can justify that, we can only take the advice that you have given us,” he stated.
Senators present in the meeting warned the Governor that he risked being hounded out of office for contravening the Public Finance Management Act especially since it emerged that Sh2.6 billion was paid to staff in wages, something which should not have happened since the transactions was not approved.
Nyamira Senator Okong’o Mong’are described the scenario as a ‘ticking bomb’ questioning the relationship between the Executive and County Assembly and whether the fear of being impeached had made the Governor act the way he did.
“If the County Assembly is not in line, we need to dig things deeper; we need to know when the three budget proposals were submitted.This is a breach of the Constitution!” he said.
The Governor exonerated the Assembly from blame over the matter clarifying that they had not submitted any proposals, adding that he had since replaced the previous CEC Finance over laxity in performing his duties with the new one being just barely a month old.
“It could be that the Government of Nakuru does not know how government works, in terms of legislation,” said Khalwale.
The committee chairman also stated that they would be seeking the indulgence of the Controller of Budget to explain why the budgets for Nakuru County were approved in light of the blatant disregard of the law.
“It is a very disturbing issue because I don’t know what we spent at all,” said Senator Martha Wangari.
Khalwale has since directed the Speaker of the Nakuru County Assembly, the Controller of Budget, the CEC finance, the Leader of Majority and also the Executive to submit documents detailing the expenditures.
Area Senator Njenga Mungai who attended the session as an invited guest, a practice within the committee to enable the respective Senator to tackle pertinent issues in the county lauded the Governor for his efforts in developing Nakuru but however urged him to reprimand county staff who were undermining his office Senator.
Despite the hitches, Mbugua was commended for having a cordial relationship with his deputy unlike other Governors who have fallen out with their running mates.
The committee also raised concern over the county’s burgeoning wage bill due to the high number of staff most of whom were absorbed from the now defunct municipal councils.
Mbugua however stated that the county was no longer employing staff as its attempted to reduce its wage bill which was consuming a huge chunk of its allocation.
In the 2013/14 report by the auditor, only Sh841 million was spent on development despite an allocation of Sh1.7 billion from the Sh8.2 billion allocated to the county.
The Controller of Budget will also be required to shed more light over why she approved the budget of the county when it had only allocated 19 percent of the equitable share despite the County Allocation of Revenue Act having stated that development should receive not less than 30 percent of the equitable share.
During the meeting, the committee raised questions over the quality of audit conducted by the Auditor General after it emerged that there were contradicting figures on how much was allocated to the county in the 2013/14 financial year.
“The defective issue here is the report by the auditor general. If the first audit query is faulty, I am worried,” said Wangari.
The auditor had stated that the county had received Sh9.2 billion from the ex-chequer while the Executive insisted it received Sh5.9billion while another county official said it was Sh6.5 billion raising questions over how much the county actually received.
Khalwale gave the parties one week to agree on the figures and table the relevant documents.
“We want you to account for every shilling because if we don’t get the documents, we will not be able to know whether taxpayers money was lost,” said Khalwale retorting that the audit was done poorly.