Queries over Kiambu’s Sh973m budget for ‘State House duties’

Friday May 3 2019

IBRAHIM ORUKO
By IBRAHIM ORUKO
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There was a mix of disgust, humour and shock when Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu appeared before the Senate County Public Accounts and Investments Committee (CPAIC) Thursday after it emerged the county incurred Sh2.5 billion abnormal expenditures which even the governor disowned.

And for this reason the office of the Auditor-General will in the next 45 days conduct a special audit on the financial accounts of the Kiambu County Government.

The Senate Committee ordered the Auditor-General Edward Ouko to carry out the special audit and report back to the committee.

BIZARRE ALLOCATIONS

It emerged Thursday that Mr Waititu’s administration had actually allocated billions of shillings to budget votes that do not make sense in relation to devolved functions.

For example, the county had allocated Sh973 million for coordination of State House functions and actually went ahead to spend Sh902 million in the year under review, Sh58 million was spent on “South Sudan peace process” and another Sh804 million for free primary education even though it is a function of the national government.

The bizarre revelations prompted President Uhuru Kenyatta’s chief of Staff Nzioka Waita to issue a statement, distancing State House from the claims.

“Just for the record: State House does not share any budgets with the County Government of Kiambu,” Nzioka tweeted.

The report also suggested that the county spent all the Sh180.5 million set aside for administration of statutory benefits for retired presidents, while the State Corporations Advisory Services gobbled up Sh591.6 million.

These expenditures were flagged when Mr Waititu appeared before the committee to defend the county’s revenue and expenditure accounts for the 2017/18 financial year.

“This numbers are not adding up. Is it Kiambu government that is financing State House? That Kiambu is paying statutory benefits for retired presidents?” senator Moses Kajwang who chairs the committee posed.

Mr Waititu disowned the expenditure and welcomed the order for a special audit.

“What I have just seen is also new to me. You know we don’t have a budget line for National government functions. No money has been disbursed to that effect,” Mr Waititu told the shocked committee, which is chaired by Homa Bay senator Moses Kajwang’.

'POLITICS'

The governor said he was ignorant of the allocations and claimed that the allocation could have been ‘sneaked’ into the bulky documents by officers in the Auditor-General’s office.

Soon after he changed tune and claimed the allocations could have been sneaked in by Kiambu Senator Kimani Wamatangi to tarnish his name and that of his administration.

“I strongly believe we did not spend the monies in those budget lines. I will not bear responsibility as the governor for something I don’t know. What I am seeing here from my senator and the other senator, is what I expected. They are trying to use politics to tarnish the name of my government,” he said.

In calling for a special audit, members of the committee indicted the office of Auditor General, accusing it of manipulating Kiambu financial records and called for another audit of Kiambu Alcoholic Fund popularly known as Kaa Sober

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko on Sunday claimed that officers from the office of the Auditor General had demanded a bribe from his administration to return a favourable report on his financial accounts.

INTEGRITY

On Thursday, it emerged that the officials from the office of Auditor-General who audited Kiambu County government are the same ones who audited Nairobi County and whose integrity was questioned by Mr Sonko.

The Public Finance Management Act requires that all county budgets be approved by the Office of the Controller of Budget once endorsed by the County Assembly

It was not clear whether both the Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo and County Assembly approved the budget for Kiambu County government with budget lines that contain functions that constitutionally belong to national government.

Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo questioned why the office of the Auditor General did not flag out “these weird spending” and the fact that Kiambu County had an account for state house, which is a national government expenditure.