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Audit puzzle as eight counties budget for 'State House'.

Eight more counties made bizarre allocations in their budgets similar to that of Kiambu county, shining the spotlight on expenditure by the devolved units.

A review of their statements for financial year 2017-18 reveals an alarming trend where the devolved units have set aside funds for functions beyond their purview.

Kitui, Kakamega, Garissa, Kirinyaga, Kwale, Lamu, Nyamira, and Samburu are among the counties which made allocations for State House Affairs (Ifmis code 704000000) and Government Advisory Services (703000000).

The counties did not present a breakdown of what was approved for the programmes or sub-programmes, raising questions on why the approvals were not flagged by concerned budget offices.

Counties set aside cash for the administration of payments for retired presidents, and for Kenya-South Sudan Advisory Services.

The concern is on what the monies were spent on - after State House denied sharing budgets with counties - and whether the Office of the Controller of Budget conducted due diligence on the expenditure proposals sent by governors for approval.

For Kitui, the county approved Sh60.56 million for the State House vote of which Sh60 million was spent as at June 30, 2018. A further Sh28.2 million was spent on State Corporation Advisory services.

The financial statements for Kakamega showed that the county spent Sh29.3 million of Sh75 million allocated under the State House vote and Sh115 million on South Sudan Advisory services.

Garissa's approved budget set aside Sh178 million for coordinating State House functions of which Sh19.2 million was reported as spent on pensions for retired presidents.

In Kirinyaga, the county had Sh344 million approved for State House functions and had spent Sh327.14 million by the close of the fiscal year.

Kwale had Sh939 million set aside under the State House vote of which Sh732 million was spent on various voteheads; Lamu spent Sh10.2 million on the same.

Nyamira and Samburu spent Sh6.8 million and Sh80.1 million respectively on State House Affairs, the same having been approved by the concerned offices.

Some of the affected counties equally allocated millions of shillings towards census and surveys, which is largely a national government function.

Governors protested the revelations which came to the fore when Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu faced the Senate over audit queries concerning the county.

Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya told the Star yesterday that no governor would appear before Senators to answer to the queries until the matter is addressed.

He dismissed the allocations, which are captured in the budget breakdown for county programmes, as 'a propaganda spin by people out to wreck governors' careers'.

'This is something that has been put there. I have advised all governors not to appear before the Senate until the matter is resolved,' Oparanya said.

'How would you think all counties can do that? A budget is a local thing. There is no way all counties would provide that vote except for salaries.'

Oparanya said they (county governments) will 'dig deep' to find out the source of the anomaly, especially in the face of the fact that most of the affected counties have nothing to do with South Sudan.

'Something is either wrong with Ifmis or something else. A review of what we presented to the Budget Controller is entirely different,' he said on the phone.

Senators at the Public Accounts Committee (CPAIC) chaired by Moses Kajwang of Homa Bay were treated to shocking revelations that Kiambu spent Sh903 million on the State House vote, Sh575 million for South Sudan matters and Sh180 million on retired presidents' benefits.

Waititu defended his office saying the county must have borrowed a budget template from the National Treasury for use in its expenditure proposals.

'What I have seen is also news to me. Nobody could have assumed we could have such allocations in our budget,' the governor told the unconvinced Senators.

Dennis Kabaara, a financial management consultant, said he suspects that the problem emanates from a wrong Ifmis code.

'From what I know of the system, I don't think the counties budgeted for the expenditure. The coding either within the county finance departments or National Treasury is likely wrong,' he said.

'When budgeting, there are programmes and line items aligned to the budgets. Some of the allocations may have been under the programme votes but the expenditure under the same may just be okay in my view,' Kabaara said.

Deputy President William Ruto on Sunday defended Waititu saying those raising the queries were asking the governor 'bogus questions'.

He told faithful at a church in Kiambu that the governor was being crucified for nothing adding that the audit queries should be directed to the national government.

The office of the Budget Controller held that the items which are under scrutiny did not appear in the county's (Kiambu) Quarterly Expenditure Reports submitted for that period.
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Publication:The Star (Nairobi, Kenya)
Date:May 7, 2019
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