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Controller of Budget nominee Nyakang’o blames the Treasury for huge debts

Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o. /COURTESY.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 29 – Controller of Budget nominee Margaret Nyakang’o has attributed the swelling public debt to failure by the National Treasury to rely on revenue projections produced by government agencies such as the Kenya Revenue Authority.

Speaking during her approval session by the National Assembly Finance Committee, Nyakang’o blamed Treasury mandarins for overlooking the revenue statistics which then forces the country into borrowing in order to fill budget deficits.

“I am sure that Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), within its systems has skills that can do this and advise the government appropriately, but what has been happening is that these figures have been given, but within the Treasury people feel they don’t want to say that there is a gap,” she said.

The nominee, who is a household name in women golf circle, was responding to MPs queries on how she will tackle the challenge given the National Treasury still holds key functions such as internal audit and day-to-day management of the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) for both the ministries and county governments.

“So the only way out, is perhaps to say, that we are expecting so much revenue. This has led to a situation where we always have to plug this hole with borrowing,” she said.

The graduate of the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom further stated that the delay by Treasury to release funds to counties and other government departments was to blame for the ballooning pending bills which her predecessor singled out as a major challenge to devolution.

“County funds have often been delayed through a process which looks like blackmail by the Treasury and it is always said that the CoB has not cleared it.

Nyakang’o, who was flanked by her husband during the interview, called for the enhancement of budget execution for counties, including expanding the role of her office to veto expenditures by county governments as a means of the budget controls.

She called for a better working relationship between county executives and the assemblies.

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“Assuming that these institutions are doing this out of ignorance, we need to build capacity on budgetary controls right from the strategic plans because you will find that requests are being made that were never planned for in the first place. So the legitimate items in the budget are often left out. Subsequently, the spending still has to take place so we end up with pending bills,” she explained.

Nyakang’o told the House team that she was ready to serve as the country’s second gatekeeper of the Consolidated Fund which will effectively make her the first line of defense against pilferage or abuse of public funds.

She will also be expected to put to check all public spending.

If the MPs approve her nomination by the President, she will replace Agnes Odhiambo, whose eight-year non-renewable term ended on August 27.

She described herself as a diligent and self-motivated team leader as well as a player, with solid skills and experience in a wide variety of organizations in both public and private sectors of the Kenyan economy.

She said her strong background in accounting and audit complements doctoral-level strategic management and organizational development skills for a well-rounded consultant with research interests in strategic workforce planning.

Until her nomination last week, Nyakang’o doubled up as a lecturer in public sector finance at the KCA University and a management consultant at Mitun Business Consulting Limited (MBCL), which offers business solutions in strategic workforce, tax and financial planning as well as training.

The nominee previously served as the director in-charge of Finance and Administration at the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) for a decade until October 2018.

She was tasked with providing financial advisory to the KNBS board, through the Finance and Administration Committee.

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